Memorial Day Quotes & Speech | Ronald Reagan

May 25, 2018

Memorial Day: In His Words

Memorial Day has come to stand for family barbecues, a day off of work and the unofficial kickoff to the summer season. However, if you look back on the Ronald Reagan Memorial Day speech of 1982, you can see what the real spirit behind the holiday is—and what we need to do to get back to it.

The Memorial Day quotes of Ronald Reagan were delivered May 31 that year at Arlington National Cemetery, after he placed a wreath at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldiers. His address sought to pay somber tribute to the reason we mark Memorial Day—for the men and women who sacrificed their lives for our country—while also framing that loss in the greater context of what they fought for: peace.

Reagan, fittingly known as the Great Communicator, poignantly memorialized those who have been lost in the fight for American freedom in one of the most effective ways possible: by noting how little words themselves can truly heal the pain of loss. “I have no illusions about what little I can add now to the silent testimony of those who gave their lives willingly for their country,” Reagan said. Instead, the president urged listeners to take action to honor that sacrifice. The freedom that those men and women died for, he said, does not come cheap and requires another measure of sacrifice from those who have gone on to live and fight for American prosperity.

With that, Ronald Reagan connected the mission of Memorial Day to the issues facing the country at that time, including ongoing tensions with the Soviet Union. The president used the occasion to announce the launch of the strategic-arms reduction with the country, which he said was an effort to pursue peace, a goal that he noted the fallen military members also shared.

“As we honor their memory today, let us pledge that their lives, their sacrifices, their valor shall be justified and remembered for as long as God gives life to this nation. And let us also pledge to do our utmost to carry out what must have been their wish: that no other generation of young men will every have to share their experiences and repeat their sacrifice.”

The Ronald Reagan Memorial Day Speech perfectly illustrates what the occasion should actually be about: a time to remember those whose bravery took them to the front lines of our defense, and inspiration to help us carry out the ideas and ideals for which they fought.

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