May 21, 1992, Memorial Day Proclamation.

Summer might well be described as the season of liberty — during this delightful time of year, millions of schoolchildren enjoy a welcome respite from the classroom while their parents and countless other Americans plan and participate in family vacations, Fourth of July picnics, and other activities that remind us of how very fortunate we are to live in this great land of freedom and opportunity. Thus, it is fitting that before we Americans celebrate the arrival of summer, we set aside a special day in honor of all those brave and selfless individuals who have died to defend our freedom and security. The peace, liberty, and prosperity with which we are blessed would not have been possible without their great sacrifices, and on Memorial Day we remember each of them with solemn pride and gratitude.

Whether we observe the occasion through public ceremony or through private prayer, Memorial Day leaves few hearts unmoved. Each of the patriots whom we remember on this day was first a beloved son or daughter, a brother or sister, or a spouse, friend, and neighbor. Each had hopes, plans and dreams not unlike our own. The loss of these Americans — indeed, the loss of any human life to war — fills us with sorrow and with strengthened resolve to work for peace.

Yet it would be a great injustice to our fallen service members to observe the day solely as one of mourning. Henry Ward Beecher may have explained it best when he said:

They that die for a good cause are redeemed from death * * * Are they dead that yet move upon society and inspire the people with nobler motives and more heroic patriotism? Ye that mourn let gladness mingle with your tears. It was your son, but now he is the Nation’s. He made your household bright; now his example inspires a thousand households.

The men and women who gave their lives in service to our couontry were dedicated to the worthy cause of freedom, and not one of them died in vain. From colonial America to the Persian Gulf, from places such as the Argonne to Normandy, Inchon, and Da Nang — they fought and sacrificed so others might live in peace, free from the fear of tyranny and aggression. On this Memorial Day, our hearts should swell with thankfulness and pride as we reflect on our Nation’s enduring heritage of liberty under law and on the continuing expansion of democratic ideals around the globe.

Today, inspired by the selfless actions and by the noble legacy of our Nation’s war dead, let us rededicate ourselves to the unfinished work of which President Lincoln spoke at Gettysburg. Let us renew our determination to promote respect for human rights and the rule of law, and let us pray for fortitude an discernment as we go about that unending task.

The Congress, by a joint resolution approved on May 11, 1950 (64 Stat. 158), has requested the President to issue a proclamation calling on the people of the United States to observe each Memorial Day as a day of prayer for permanent peace and designating a period on that day when the people of the United States might unite in prayer.

Now, Therefore, I, George Bush,President of the United States of America, do hereby designate Memorial Day, May 25, 1992, as a day of prayer for permanent peace, and I designate the hour beginning in each locality at 11 o’clock in the morning of that day as a time to unite in prayer. I urge the members of the media to cooperate in this observance.

I also request the Governors of the United States and the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico, and the appropriate officials of all units of government, to direct that the flag be flown at half-staff until noon during this Memorial Day on all buildings, grounds, and naval vessels throughout the United States and in all areas under its jurisdiction and control. I also request the people of the United States to display the flag at half-staff from their homes for the customary forenoon period.

In Witness Whereof, I have hereunto set my hand this twenty-first day of May, in the year of our Lord nineteen hundred and ninety-two, and of the Independence of the United States of America the two hundred and sixteenth.

George Bush in the cockpit of his TBM Avenger during World War II, ca. 1944.
Credit: National Archives.
George Bush in the cockpit of his TBM Avenger during World War II, ca. 1944. Credit: National Archives.

George Bush being rescued by the submarine, the U.S.S. Finback, after being shot down while on a bombing run of the Island of Chi Chi Jima, 09/02/1944.
Credit: National Archives.
George Bush being rescued by the submarine, the U.S.S. Finback, after being shot down while on a bombing run of the Island of Chi Chi Jima, 09/02/1944. Credit: National Archives.

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