May 26

Honoring the Legacy of Our Fallen Soldiers

by Sargent Shriver Peace Institute | 05/26/2023 6:00AM | Quote of the Week | Citizenship

Honoring the Legacy of Our Fallen Soldiers

Honoring the Legacy of Our Fallen Soldiers

Our Quote of the Week, from a long-ago Memorial Day, sends a message that we would do well to heed today: that to honor our fallen soldiers, we must encourage new ways of thinking and create a more nurturing, inclusive world.

Sargent Shriver spoke these words in 1968 in his Remarks at Suresnes American Military Cemetery and Memorial. At the time, he was just beginning his tenure as US Ambassador to France. To honor the US military personnel from both world wars buried at Suresnes, Shriver began the speech with these words:

"Men who died in America's wars fell doing their duty. It is necessary now for us to know our duty. In the moment of silence we observed, each of us, each in our own way, saw our duty ahead. Each of us, probably, with a different approach. For each of us, I am sure, if asked to express his thoughts, would have different words. Yet, no matter the words or the approach, the world is full of people, place, problems -- all calling upon us -- the living -- to do our duty."

Even on an occasion to honor the dead, Shriver turns quickly to the duties and responsibilities of the living. He stresses the importance of service and of taking action against the scourges that humanity faces, demonstrating  a human-centric approach that is meant to unify those listening into taking action together. Shriver's emphasis is on citizenship, on moving together with a common purpose in order to improve quality of life for people everywhere. He speaks in a way that reminds us of our common struggles and of the potential to overcome them together, as one human family. In so doing, he reminds us that our responsibility to the living also honors our dearly departed.

It's important to notice that Shriver's definition of citizenship isn't about country of birth or even legal status. Being an engaged citizen means making a commitment to serving your community, your neighbors, your country, and in the context of global citizenship, even your world, so that as a collective, we may all benefit from the resources at our disposal and have our rights protected as human beings.

This Memorial Day weekend, let us honor the soldiers we have lost by recognizing our roles as citizens, by finding ways to create the conditions for a more peaceful world. 

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