Magazine article U.S. Department of Defense Speeches

Memorial Day Observance

Magazine article U.S. Department of Defense Speeches

Memorial Day Observance

Article excerpt

As Delivered by Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel, Arlington National Cemetery, Monday, May 26, 2014

Thank you. Good morning.

Mr. President; Mrs. Obama; Vice President Biden; Dr. Biden; Secretary Shinseki; General Dempsey; Major General Buchanan; ladies and gentlemen: First, I want to acknowledge, and add my welcome, to the families of our military men and women who are here today and who are watching this all over the world.

And I want to particularly welcome the families of the fallen who are here with us this morning. We admire you. We are grateful. We will never forget your sacrifices and the sacrifices of your loved ones.

Ladies and gentlemen, I very much appreciate the opportunity to be here--to be here this morning, in this place, as we observe this very sacred, very sacred day in America, Memorial Day. We gather to remember those who sacrificed everything in defense of our nation.

This Memorial Day has special meaning, given that next week marks the 70th anniversary of the D-Day landings at Normandy--a day that was perhaps America's bloodiest day in all of World War II ... a day with more than 10,000 Allied casualties. Such a staggering toll is difficult to comprehend.

As we commemorate the fallen, I think of the wisdom, and the humility, of our then-Supreme Allied Commander, General Dwight David Eisenhower. Not long after the first anniversary of D-Day, he said that any battlefield commander, no matter how accomplished or celebrated he might be, "would sadly face the fact that his honors cannot hide in his memories the crosses marking the resting places of the dead. …

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