On Memorial Day we honor all the men and women in military sevrice and, especially, those who died defending our country. The latter, in Lincoln's memorable phrase, gave their last full measure of devotion. Memorial Day began in 1868 to pay tribute to the fallen Union soldiers in the Civil War. It has evolved into a day that commemorates the casualities in all the wars America has taken part. Originally called Decoration Day because military graves are festooned with flags and flowers, Memorial Day now embraces under its aegis of honor all veterans, living and dead. It is fitting and proper that we do this. But on this and every Memorial Day we should never lose sight of why we go to war in the first place. We put our men and women in harm's way not for territory, not for profit, not for prestige. We ask the ultimate sacrifice for one and only one reason: Peace.
Though a bloody conflict gave birth to our nation, we are fundamentally a peaceful people. " Give me liberty or give me death," Patrick Henry famously said. But we Americans are reluctant warriors. And for us war will always be a last resort.
Today I pray for the gallant men and women who go and have gone to war to keep the peace, and I pray for those who are prepared to do so. They are the peacemakers that St. James alluded to, who work for peace, and sow the seeds for a just and righteous people.
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