Today is Memorial Day – a day of remembrance for those who died in service to our country.

Originally called Decoration Day (from the early tradition of decorating graves with flowers, wreaths and flags), Memorial Day dates back to the years after the Civil War and was declared a federal holiday in 1971 by President Richard Nixon.

Now celebrated as part of a three-day weekend, it represents the beginning of summer filled with barbecues, camping and trips to the lake.

But to me, Memorial Day also represents the importance of peace.

So, to honor this day, I reread the commencement speech that President John F. Kennedy delivered at Ame... and would like to share some excerpts with you. In his speech, the President asked the graduates to re-examine their own attitudes towards world peace, which he termed as the “most important topic on earth.”

First: Let us examine our attitude toward peace itself. Too many of us think it is impossible. Too many think it unreal. But that is a dangerous, defeatist belief. It leads to the conclusion that war is inevitable–that mankind is doomed–that we are gripped by forces we cannot control.

We need not accept that view. Our problems are manmade–therefore, they can be solved by man. And man can be as big as he wants. No problem of human destiny is beyond human beings. Man’s reason and spirit have often solved the seemingly unsolvable–and we believe they can do it again.

Genuine peace must be the product of many nations, the sum of many acts. It must be dynamic, not static, changing to meet the challenge of each new generation. For peace is a process–a way of solving problems.

From my perspective, peace is the greatest gift that we can give our service men and women this Memorial Day. Thank-you to you all.


P.S. The photo for this post was taken by my grandfather in Berlin on June 26, 1963.

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