Memorial Day is a time for citizens across this nation to remember and pay tribute to America's sons and daughters who sacrificed themselves in service to their country.
For the Department of Defense family, Memorial Day offers each of us a moment to quietly reflect on the more than 6,800 members of the Armed Forces who gave the last full measure of their devotion over the past 13 years of war. As we honor their service and sacrifice, we think of the mothers and fathers, husbands and wives, sons and daughters who they left behind. Our thoughts and our prayers go out to all of them.
As difficult as Memorial Day is for all of us who lost a loved one, friend, or teammate, it is also a day of hope. That's because the spirit of those who sacrificed so much lives on in each of us -- and we will never forget them.
As Civil War veteran and former Supreme Court Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes said one Memorial Day long ago, "Our dead brothers still live for us, and bid us think of life, not death -- of life to which in their youth they lent the passion and joy of the spring."
This Memorial Day, as we honor our fellow countrymen who gave everything to a noble cause, we strive to be worthy of their great sacrifices as we all work toward making a better future for all mankind. That will remain our task for generations to come.