WASHINGTON (AFNS) -- Secretary of the Air Force Deborah Lee James and Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. Mark A. Welsh III send the following Memorial Day message to the Airmen of the U.S. Air Force and their families:
On May 30, 1868, the first official Memorial Day observance was held at Arlington National Cemetery to honor and to decorate the graves of those who died during the Civil War. Today, Memorial Day serves as an opportunity to pause and remember the sacrifices of more than one million Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen, Marines, and Coast Guardsmen who gave their lives to secure our freedoms.
As we remember our fallen, captured, or missing service men and women, we also express our gratitude to those who are currently defending our Nation. Among our all-volunteer force serving today, more than 75 percent of our Airmen joined the Air Force after 9/11 and have never known a peacetime military. The men and women who answered the call by saying, "Send me," exemplify the core value of Service Before Self.
In addition to recognizing the service of our Airmen and fellow service members, we pay tribute to the families of the fallen, as well as to our wounded warriors and their families. For these families -- the husbands and wives, sons and daughters, mothers and fathers -- every day is Memorial Day. To the loved ones of our fallen, captured, or missing service men and women, we owe a debt of gratitude that can never be repaid.
On this day of remembrance, as we honor those who gave the last full measure of devotion serving our nation, we affirm our commitment to military family survivors, as well as to our wounded warriors and their families. To all of our Airmen, serving at home or abroad, please know that your sacrifices do not go unnoticed. We are grateful for your service and are privileged to stand with you, by you, and for you.
(Courtesy of Secretary of the Air Force Public Affairs)