Memorials already have been built on the National Mall in Washington, D.C., to tell the stories of wars fought during the 20th century. These memorials make a powerful statement about our history.
When a young person makes the ultimate sacrifice for our country in time of war, it's the most extraordinary gift a human being can offer - the gift of one's own life. The measure of such a sacrifice can never be taken lightly. It cannot be matched by anything else one human being can do for another.
The sacrifice of one's life is eternal; it lasts forever.
The cost paid by the families of the dead, for them, the wars of the past don't just pass into the pages of history books.
Losses from World Wars, the Korean War, the Vietnam War and our present wars still weighs upon the hearts of families today.
Those we remember today, on Memorial Day, were killed or died from injuries created by wars in the cause of our country's freedom. In war, our troops suffer terrible wounds and injuries. Sometimes their minds are shattered. Often they come home with lifelong illnesses, some with no names.
War is not a trivial thing.
A civilized nation respects those who bear its terrible burden.
I hope our nation's leaders will show their respect for those who have carried freedom's torch. When they send the men and women of our armed forces to war, they shoulder an enormous responsibility, one that must not be taken lightly.
And I hope America's people will urge their elected leaders to fulfill this essential duty, because without pressure, nothing will change.
Today, you showed the deepest respect by honoring veterans on this Memorial Day. Veterans who have died from all wars.
You render due tribute to those who gave up the breath of life long ago, as well as those who made the ultimate sacrifice only recently in Iraq or Afghanistan. You have remembered what a poet called, "The single deed, the private sacrifice/ So radiant now through proudly hidden tears."
Thank you once again for observing Memorial Day, honoring those who preserved our nation "at life's dear peril." You have honored that sacrifice today. You have carried the message to others: Lest we forget.