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In this special “Vets to Ventures” article, we take this month to reflect on the history and significance of Memorial Day – an annual tradition on the last Monday in the month of May – to remember and memorialize the sacrifices of our fallen heroes.

Unlike Veterans Day in which we honor all who served, on Memorial Day, we remember military members who made the ultimate sacrifice, and acknowledge their courage, selflessness, and commitment “to that cause for which they gave the last full measure of devotion.” (Former President Abraham Lincoln at Gettysburg).

Our fallen heroes hail from all walks of life and from diverse backgrounds and ethnicities, but share a common mission – a willingness to serve their country and a dedication to a cause greater than themselves. By remembering the sacrifices made by our fallen heroes, we honor their legacy and ensure their stories are not forgotten.

We remember the courageous soldiers who stormed the beaches of Normandy, the fighter pilots who battled over the skies of Vietnam, the Marines who raised the flag on Iwo Jima, and all the service men and women who died in defense of liberty in the Global War on Terror. We remember the sailors who went down with their ships, the doctors who treated the wounded on battlefields, and the countless support personnel who ensured operations ran smoothly.

Our gratitude on Memorial Day extends beyond our fallen heroes. It also encompasses the families who have endured unimaginable loss – spouses who lost their partners, children who grew up without a parent, parents who buried their children – their sacrifice is woven into the fabric of this special day.

“Decorating the Graves of Comrades”

The roots of Memorial Day date back to March 3, 1868, when General John A. Logan, Commander in Chief of the Grand Army of the Republic, issued General Order No. 11, which called for a national day of remembrance for the more than 600,000 soldiers who died in the Civil War (1861-1865).

“The 30th day of May 1868 is designated for the purpose of strewing with flowers or otherwise decorating the graves of comrades who died in defense of their country during the late rebellion, and whose bodies now lie in almost every city, village, and hamlet churchyard in the land. ... We are organized, comrades, as our regulations tell us, for the purpose, among other things, of preserving and strengthening those kind and fraternal feelings which have bound together the soldiers, sailors and marines who united to suppress the late rebellion. … It is the purpose of the commander in chief to inaugurate this observance with the hope that it will be kept up from year to year, while a survivor of the war remains to honor the memory of his departed comrades.”

This order served as the basis for “Decoration Day”. The federal government adopted the “Memorial Day” name in 1967.

We have since held many traditional events to observe Memorial Day, and here are several ways you can continue the Memorial Day tradition:

  • Visit a Cemetery/War Memorial: Pay your respects with flowers or flags on graves.
  • Attend a Memorial Day Ceremony: Many communities hold parades, speeches, and wreath-laying ceremonies to honor veterans. Memorial Day traditions like visiting memorials and attending ceremonies help educate younger generations about the sacrifices made to preserve our nation's security.
  • Educate Others: Talk to friends and family about the meaning of the holiday.
  • Learn about a Fallen Service Member: Research those who have died in service.
  • Volunteer with a Veterans’ Organization: Give back to those who served and their families.

A Day of Reflection

“Heroes never die. They live on forever in the hearts and minds of those who would follow in their footsteps.”Emily Potter

Memorial Day serves as a powerful reminder of the cost of freedom. As Veterans, we understand the incomparable cost borne by the brave men and women who answered the call to duty, and by reflecting on their sacrifices, it strengthens our resolve to uphold the ideals they fought for.

Our entire Adams and Reese family extends our heartfelt gratitude for our fallen heroes and their impacted family members who mourn the loss of their loved ones. Memorial Day unites Americans in honoring those who have lost their lives in serving our country. It’s a day of gratitude, a day of reflection, and a day to recommit to the values they fought to defend.

So, at the family barbecue or gathering this weekend, please take a moment of silence or toast to our fallen heroes, recognizing and reflecting on the true importance of Memorial Day, remembering, and honoring those who gave their lives for our freedom.

Adams and Reese Vets to Ventures Series

For Our Veterans, by Our Veterans - Adams and Reese is proud to feature a series of informative articles addressing hot topics of legal interest for service members transitioning back to the private sector. Sean Buckley, a veteran U.S. Navy Officer, is a corporate services attorney in the Houston office. John Woods, a former infantry officer in the U.S. Army National Guard, is a litigation attorney in the Memphis office.