Memorial Day was originally celebrated as Decoration Day following the Civil War. It was a time to decorate the graves of our Civil War dead. For many, this day of remembrance has merely become a reason for a 3 day weekend. For many of ushowever, its a time to reflect on those we've lost in the wars our country has fought and in the tragedies that have befallen our great nation.
Since 2005 I've worn a POW bracelet on my right wrist for SGT Keith "Matt" Maupin. Matt's convoy was attacked in April 2004 near Baghdad Iraq. As many of you know, Matt's remains were discovered this past March northwest of Baghdad. I'm going to keep this bracelet.
In August 2005 my wife's father Don passed away. Don was a 40 year veteran of the Indiana National Guard. He worked full-time at the armory in their hometown of Logansport, Indiana. Everyone in town knew Don. When I deployed to Iraq the first time, Don started wearing an 'I Support the National Guard' bracelet. When he passed away, Beth gave me that bracelet. I keep it with me here now.
Many of my soldiers here on this tour wear bracelets etched with the name of a soldier. Many of them personally knew the Soldier whose name is engraved on that piece of metal. They were friends, comrades, Brothers. Even after they leave the service and continue their lives without the Army, they'll keep those bracelets.
As the years pass, and time marches on, we all continue to carry the memories of those we've lost. No matter the connection we had to those people. Whether a Brother in Arms, or a stranger from a war long ago, we remember someone, in some way.
This Memorial Day, I want you to enjoy the time you have with your families. Go outside, take the kids to a parade, have a cook-out. But please do one thing for me. Remember those who have gone before us.