Memorial Day is a day of sacred honor, established by Congress and observed continuously in various forms since 1868. When originally envisioned by Gen. John Logan, it was to be a time of healing as graves and cemeteries of both Union and Confederate forces were to be decorated. It was a time to heal wounds of a once-torn nation by honoring all military dead of the Civil War.

Over the ensuing century, the focus has become one of honor for all of our war dead.

Since the War Department began keeping records during the Revolution in 1776, it’s estimated that more than 1.2 million American heroes from every generation, from every ethnic group in this melting pot we call the United States, and both male and female – in every war – have donned the uniform of this nation and never returned to live out the fullness of their dreams.

More than 1.2 million American heroes took an oath to support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies. They defended this Constitution with their lives, sacrificing their love and their futures so that we can enjoy freedom and the liberties embodied in the word and spirit of the Constitution our forefathers worked so hard to write.

On Memorial Day every one of us has the opportunity to pause and remember those who gave their all – for me, and for you.

I hope everyone will make this Memorial Day a personal day of honor and remembrance.

…As noted in the General Order Number 11 by General Logan, “no form of ceremony is prescribed, but posts and comrades will in their own way arrange such fitting services and testimonials of respect as circumstances permit … If other eyes grow dull, other hands slack, and other hearts turn cold in the solemn trust, ours shall keep it as long as the light and warmth of life remain to us.”

Logan charged us to keep the faith with those who have sacrificed for us. So please join me this Memorial Day, for we cannot let our own hands slack, or our hearts turn cold.

Freedom has too high a price to forget our fallen heroes. We are not just the beneficiaries of their bravery – we are the stewards of their sacrifice.

Timothy Hale, Cabinet Secretary, N.M. Department of Veterans’ Services