Remembering Those Who Died

Memorial Day honors all Americans who died fighting to defend our country. Among them is my uncle, George “Buddy” Patterson, who died during World War Two at age nineteen. He is buried at the Gettysburg National Cemetery because my grandparents lived nearby in Pennsylvania. My parents adopted Buddy when he was a baby. He had been abused and abandoned by his birth parents. My grandmother spent months nursing him back to health. Like most men at the time, including my father,  Buddy volunteered after the attack on Pearl Harbor caused the U.S. to enter the war. Fortunately, my father was not injured, but Buddy did not survive his service in Europe.

 Another fallen soldier whom I will remember today is one of my high school classmates, Randy Lundy. He was one of the most popular students in my school and for a good reason. He was an outstanding athlete, excellent student and great teenager with a bright future. He was sent to Vietnam where he was killed by friendly fire. 

Two blocks from our house, a family has erected a three foot white cross on the front lawn of their home and encircled it with miniature flags. I do not know this family but the parents have attached a photograph of their young son on the cross and noted his rank and date of death in the Gulf.

Their “Buddy” has died too.

In 2000, President Bill Clinton passed a resolution calling for a national moment of remembrance on each Memorial Day to honor those who paid the ultimate sacrifice for our freedoms.

Join me in pausing at 3 p.m. today to remember those who have perished.

                  THE WHITE HOUSE

                     Office of the Press Secretary
For Immediate Release                                       May 2, 2000

Memorandum on the White House Program for the National Moment
of Remembrance

Memorandum for the Heads of Executive Departments and Agencies

Subject:  White House Program for the National Moment of Remembrance

    As Memorial Day approaches, it is time to pause and consider the
true meaning of this holiday. Memorial Day represents one day of
national awareness and reverence, honoring those Americans who died
while defending our Nation and its values. While we should honor these
heroes every day for the profound contribution they have made to
securing our Nation's freedom, we should honor them especially on
Memorial Day.
    In this time of unprecedented success and prosperity throughout our
land, I ask that all Americans come together to recognize how fortunate
we are to live in freedom and to observe a universal ``National Moment
of Remembrance'' on each Memorial Day. This memorial observance
represents a simple and unifying way to commemorate our history and
honor the struggle to protect our freedoms.
    Accordingly, I hereby direct all executive departments and agencies,
in consultation with the White House Program for the National Moment of
Remembrance (Program), to promote a ``National Moment of Remembrance''
to occur at 3 p.m. (local time) on each Memorial Day.
    Recognizing that Memorial Day is a Federal holiday, all executive
departments and agencies, in coordination with the Program and to the
extent possible and permitted by law, shall promote and provide
resources to support a National Moment of Remembrance, including:
  * Encouraging individual department and agency personnel, and
            Americans everywhere, to pause for one minute at 3:00 p.m.
            (local time) on Memorial Day, to remember and reflect on the
            sacrifices made by so many to provide freedom for all.
  *  Recognizing, in conjunction with Memorial Day, department
            and agency personnel whose family members have made the
            ultimate sacrifice for this Nation.
  *   Providing such information and assistance as may be
            necessary for the Program to carry out its functions.
    I have asked the Director of the White House Millennium Council to
issue additional guidance, pursuant to this Memorandum, to the heads of
executive departments and agencies regarding specific activities and
events to commemorate the National Moment of Remembrance.

                                            William J. Clinton

 Note:  This memorandum was released by the Office of the Press
Secretary on May 3.
About the author:

Pete Earley is the bestselling author of such books as The Hot House and Crazy. When he is not spending time with his family, he tours the globe advocating for mental health reform.

Learn more about Pete.


  1. Chrisa Hickey says

    Pete – one group of our active military that die are not honored. Soldiers that die by suicide are the only group of our brave men and women whose families do not get a condolence letter from the White House when they die. Our President perpetuates the stigma of mental illness by refusing to honor those that paid with their mental health AND their lives. Please take a moment on this Memorial Day to honor them by callIng or writing to President Obama, urging him to reverse this policy.

  2. Recently, me and my son had been writing a paper on Peal Harbor, the VietNam War and World War II.  As the Viet Nam war was part of my generation, I had some time to look at how lengthy and unnecessary that war really was.  Starting in 1945 and extending to 1972 thereabouts,was incredibly lengthy.  I was amazed to note that the War between the North and South Vietnam killed thousands if not millions of people, and a number of them were civilians.  Lyndon Johnson, didnt really do much to advocate peace, and instead sent in more troops to Viet Nam.  By the time we realized that we should not have joined into the battle to fight against the Viet Cong who began the problem, and the election that pre started, the dispute back in 1945, many more lives were taken.  The Nixon administration in 1970, finally decided to withdraw troops from Viet Nam and finally after entering Cambodia, decided to let South and North Vietnam fight their own battle.  Why did we get involved in first place, we will never know.  It is a war that was lost, and many more losses due to decisions that were costly at the time. 
    An unfortunate war.    

  3. Randy Lundy got backlid and was shot and killed by a sniper, not friendly fire.