Memorial Day: Honoring those who have fallen

Published 1:00 pm Saturday, May 25, 2024

By Representative Daniel Elliott


“The President is requested to issue each year a proclamation — calling on the people of the United States to observe Memorial Day by praying, according to their individual religious faith, for permanent peace; designating a period of time on Memorial Day during which the people may unite in prayer for a permanent peace; calling on the people of the United States to unite in prayer at that time; and calling on the media to join in observing Memorial Day and the period of prayer.”

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Memorial Day is codified among nearly 50 patriotic and national observances in the U.S. Code and enshrined in state law as well. On this day, we are called to remember and honor those who have lost their lives defending our nation and the freedoms that it preserves.

Memorial Day traditions began following the Civil War, when many believed fallen soldiers should be honored and began decorating their graves with spring flowers on May 30 of each year. This day was called Decoration Day. Major General John Logan, the founder of Decoration Day and leader of the Grand Army of the Republic – an organization comprised of veterans of the Union Army, Navy, and Marines – issued the Memorial Day Act on May 5, 1868, declaring: “Let no neglect, no ravages of time, testify to the present or to the coming generations that we have forgotten as a people the cost of a free and undivided republic.”

The memories of those who served our nation to the very end are testaments to the American ideals that hold our Union together. Without such sacrifices, our people’s history and the entire world would have been written in a much darker light. The brave men and women who have put down their lives in service to their nation did so to topple tyrannies, end gutless genocides, and prevent acts of terror from taking the lives of the innocent and unsuspecting at home. Their great sacrifices have marked the end of many conflicts and the key to the triumph of peace.

More than one million men and women have died in service to our nation throughout our nearly 250-year existence. From the 4,435 who died in battle during the American Revolution to the 7,000 who have lost their lives in the Middle East over the past two decades. Because of their sacrifice America has served as a beacon of hope to millions and has stood strong against those who would harm us. The welfare of our people and nation has inspired countless acts of gallantry and valor that we mourn and remember on this day.

This Memorial Day, I ask you to remember our brave scattered on the beaches of Normandy, the daring frozen in the mountains of Korea, and those valiant lost in the sands of North Africa and the Middle East. Without their sacrifice, we would not enjoy the civil liberties enshrined in our constitution or be privileged to the peace we enjoy today. I also ask you to “unite in prayer for a permanent peace.” Memorial Day is a day on which we mourn and honor those who have lost their lives in service to this great nation, but we must hope that no others should be lost.

As always, I can be reached anytime through the toll-free message line in Frankfort at 1-800-372-7181. You can also contact me via e-mail at and keep track through the Kentucky legislature’s website at