There's so much more to Memorial Day than a long weekend off work. The holiday honors the legions of military men and women who died in service to their country. It's so hard for most people to wrap their minds around what a sacrifice like that means, let alone put it into words. But there's one man who's always been up to that job. These President Obama Memorial Day quotes are an emotional reminder of why the day is so important.
Obama traditionally gave his annual Memorial Day address from Arlington National Cemetery, making his speeches all the more poignant. The cemetery is the final resting place for hundreds of thousands of late veterans, according to CNN. But as every American should know, veterans (especially those who gave their lives in the name of freedom) should be honored all year round. Whether he was speaking on Memorial Day, Veterans Day, or any other random day, the President had a unique way of capturing their glory, and our duty to keep their memories alive. And even though he's no longer in office, President Obama is still spreading that important message, as you'll see below.
These 9 emotional Obama quotes perfectly capture the essence of this somber holiday, and are so worth sharing.
1. "The Americans who rest here, and their families — the best of us, those from whom we asked everything — ask of us today only one thing in return: that we remember them."
The best way to pay tribute to fallen heroes is to remember their names and honor their sacrifices forever, Obama said in 2016.
2. "As every generation learns anew, freedom is not free."
Obama offered up this reminder about the price of freedom in his final address to the Armed Forces in 2017, as noted by Time. No audience would know better that America's freedom has been paid for with lives lost.
3. "We can’t say it enough and we can’t show it enough. Thank you for your patriotism. Thank you for your professionalism. Thank you for your character in representing the very best of the American spirit. Our nation endures, we live free under the red, white and blue because of patriots like you."
During the same speech to the Armed Forces, Obama offered up the two words that may mean more than any other: thank you.
4. "We owe you our thanks. We owe you our respect. And we owe you our freedom."
Hopefully, all Americans can put any politics aside and wholeheartedly support the men and women of the military, as Obama urged in 2016. Putting on the uniform means putting themselves in harm's way, and that definitely deserves respect.
5. "The Americans who rest beneath these beautiful hills, and in sacred ground across our country and around the world, they are why our nation endures. Each simple stone marker, arranged in perfect military precision, signifies the cost of our blessings. It is a debt we can never fully repay, but it is a debt we will never stop trying to fully repay."
Obama offered these remarks on Memorial Day 2015, staring out at the endless rows of headstones at Arlington National Cemetery, knowing each soldier laid to rest there gave so much to their country.
6. "We can never truly repay the debt we owe our fallen heroes. But we can remember them, honor their sacrifice, and affirm in our own lives those enduring ideals of justice, equality, and opportunity for which generations of Americans have given that last full measure of devotion."
7. "They overthrew an empire and gave birth to revolution. They strained to hold a young union together. They rolled back the creeping tide of tyranny and stood post through a long twilight struggle. And they took on the terror and extremism that threatens our world's stability. Their stories are the American story."
From Obama's first Memorial Day in office, according to NPR, he reminded us that the country never could have even been born without patriots willing to fight for it.
8. "Everything that we hold precious in this country was made possible by Americans who gave their all. And because of them, our nation is stronger, safer, and will always remain a shining beacon of freedom for the rest of the world."
It's so easy to forget that the freedoms Americans enjoy aren't given to everyone in the world. Obama's speech from 2014 offered a reminder that the U.S. leads the way when it comes to freedom.
9. "It is here, on this hallowed ground, where we choose to build a monument to a constant thread in the American character — the truth that our nation endures because it has always been home to men and women who are willing to give their all, and lay down their very lives, to preserve and protect this land that we love."
Obama said these words in his Memorial Day 2013 speech, according to Politico. If there's one single thing to remember on the holiday, it's that the country owes everything to the men and women who died for it.