Memorial Day a time to honor the fallen

WRIGHT-PATTERSON AIR FORCE BASE, Ohio -- For many of us, Memorial Day kicks off the summer season.  Families will gather for cookouts, go boating or swim at the pool. While you enjoy these activities, please be mindful of your safety. But as we spend time with friends and family, let us be reminded of the most important meaning of this day.

Established in 1868, Memorial Day was a day set aside to honor those lost in the Civil War. But many wars have gripped our nation since and many lives have been lost.  I ask that you pause to honor the fallen Americans who served and died for their country.  These brave men and women made the selfless choice to put service before self to protect our freedoms.

History is full of stories of service members who displayed exceptional valor. From World War I to today's engagement against terrorism, men and women have served with courage and honor. But many did not return to their homes and families. More than a million American Soldiers, Sailors, Coast Guardsmen, Marines and Airmen made the ultimate sacrifice defending our country.

We can never repay these courageous patriots who gave so much to protect our way of life, but we can use Memorial Day to honor them. And let us not forget to remember the families of the fallen-- spouses, sons, daughters, mothers and fathers. They too have sacrificed.

Our fallen warriors deserve our deepest gratitude and remembrance. Their sacrifices must never be forgotten.