Ambassador Michael C. Polt
Ambassador’s Brief Memorial Day Remarks
May 28, 2012
War of Independence Victory Column, Vabaduse Square
Mr. Minister, Members of Congress, dear colleagues and friends, thank you for joining us for our Memorial Day Ceremony this morning.
A special thanks to you, Minister Reinsalu, and to your country, for allowing us to lay a wreath to our fallen at your Cross of Liberty Monument today. You honor us with your presence.
Memorial Day emerged in my country in the healing aftermath of our devastating Civil War.
On May 5, 1868, General John Logan, National Commander of the Grand Army of the Republic, an American Veterans’ Association, asked that America remember those lost in the Civil War.
The Day was first observed on May 30, 1868 when flowers were placed on the graves of Union and Confederate soldiers at Arlington National Cemetery.
Since that day, hundreds of thousands of Americans have fought and died for freedom in struggles around the globe, and we have chosen the last Monday in May to pay tribute to those that have fallen and to remember their sacrifice.
Today we also honor those Americans that fought in Estonia’s War of Independence and the 43 that were awarded the Cross of Liberty. There is a plaque dedicated to those brave Americans in the Estonian Soldiers' Memorial Church in Tori.
For the past two years, together with our Estonian hosts, have jointly commemorated the sacrifices of Americans and Estonians on behalf of both our countries and our common values.
Estonian history is full of symbolism and many accounts of courage. One need only glance up at this Estonian Cross of Liberty monument to be reminded of this.
In the United States, we equally cherish our traditions.
On Memorial Day, the American flag is raised briskly to the top of the staff and then solemnly lowered to the half-staff position, where it remains only until noon. It is then raised to full-staff for the remainder of the day.
The half-staff position reminds us of more than one million men and women who gave their lives in service of our country.
At noon, their memory is raised by us, 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. This is fight we share with our staunch Estonian allies.
Thank you again for joining us today.