Since 1868, the United States has observed Memorial Day as a national holiday on this day. It was originally known as Decoration Day, in honor of the Civil War’s fallen. Only on Memorial Day, the flag of the United States is raised briskly to the top of the staff and then solemnly lowered to the half-staff position, where it remains only until noon. The flag is then raised to full-staff for the remainder of the day.
The half-staff position remembers the more than one million men and women who have given their lives in the service of the United States of America. At noon, their memory is raised by the living, who resolve not to let their sacrifice be in vain, but to rise up in their stead and continue the fight for liberty and justice for all…Throughout our great nation’s history, German immigrants and their descendants have been instrumental in defending the values that we, as Americans, hold so dear. Renowned Germans, such as Baron Friedrich von Steuben and General Peter Muhlenberg, were essential to our success in the American Revolutionary War. German-Americans were the largest ethnic group to fight for the Union in the American Civil War. In Missouri, young 17-year old Berthold Muench gave his life at the Battle of Wilson’s Creek. During World War I and World War II, more than 2 million German-Americans joined the ranks in the American fight for freedom, and German-Americans have fought for the USA in every one of the nation’s conflicts.
We also salute and acknowledge the 36,691 American troops currently stationed in the Federal Republic of Germany, knowing that they will continue to strengthen the bonds of friendship and mutual security between our two democratic nations. As we observe the holiday this weekend and honor those who have served and still serve our country, we extend a special tribute to our German-American patriots.