Secretary of Defense
Memorial Day Message
While every Memorial Day is marked with solemn remembrance, in 2015 we take special note. This year – as we mark the 150th anniversary of the end of the Civil War, the 70th anniversary of the end of World War II, the 65th anniversary of the start of the Korean War, the 40th anniversary of our departure from Vietnam, and the 25th anniversary of Operation Desert Shield in the lead-up to the Gulf War – we honor and remember those who perished in those wars, just as we recall the more than 6,800 American servicemembers who gave their lives since September 11, 2001.
To the families of our fallen patriots: we lack the words to describe what you feel on Memorial Day, because try as we may – as we must – we can never fully know it. But we do know what your sacrifice means to us, to our country, and to a world that still depends so much on America for its security.
As our nation remembers the service and sacrifice of previous generations, we as a people recognize that the men and women serving in uniform today – active-duty, Guard, and Reserve – are as humble, patriotic, and selfless as any generation that has come before. They, alongside their families, continue that tradition of service to country that makes our military the finest fighting force the world has ever known. Nearly 200,000 of these soldiers, sailors, airmen, and marines are currently serving beyond our shores, protecting us far from home, and will not be able to spend this holiday with their loved ones. Today, and every day, we honor them and their families with our heartfelt thanks and support.