Home : Media : Speeches

Gen. Dempsey's Remarks at the National Memorial Day Concert

By General Martin E. Dempsey

GENERAL MARTIN DEMPSEY: Recently, I received a note from a mother whose daughter is buried at Arlington. She wanted to share some of the things she’d learned at the loss of her daughter.

She learned that the grief never really goes away. At any instant, a smell, a color, a song, a date on the calendar can take you right back to that first, raw moment when everything changed.

She learned that if there’s any secret to grieving, it’s that there can be room for sorrow and joy, sadness and hope to exist in the same space at the same time. 

And she learned that grief is not a lack of faith, nor a sign of weakness.  It is the price of love. 

That love – she says – is yours to hold forever.

Memorial Day is foremost about remembrance, of America’s sons and daughters from every corner of our country, in every branch of service who gave their lives so that we may live free. 

But it’s also about love and about hope.

It gives us – the living – a chance to cherish the freedom we may now hold dear, and embrace the future we may now dare dream.

It gives us the opportunity, all citizens, everywhere, to recommit to our national purpose to secure the blessings of liberty.

Let it also renew a national commitment to usher home the men and women returning to our communities, and firmly stand by those still supporting missions around the globe.

Behind every one of them are their pillars of love and hope at home, a parent, a spouse, a son, a daughter, a community, all doing their part to take care of America. 

So, I’d like to ask all of the family members here and at home to please stand and accept our deepest gratitude for your service. 

On behalf of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and a grateful nation, we say thank you!