President Barack Obama issued a proclamation on Friday, declaring Memorial Day, which will occur on Monday, as a "Day of Prayer." He also saluted the service and sacrifice of those who have served in the U.S. military both past and present.
The proclamation, which was published by the White House Press office on WhiteHouse.gov, has set aside 11 a.m. in every time zone on Monday where "people may unite in prayer." The president also asked Americans to "observe the National Moment of Remembrance beginning at 3 p.m. local time on Memorial Day."
"On Memorial Day, the United States pauses to honor the fallen heroes who died in service to our Nation," Obama wrote. "With heavy hearts and a sense of profound gratitude, we mourn these women and men -- parents, children, loved ones, comrades-in-arms, friends, and all those known and unknown -- who believed so deeply in what our country could be they were willing to give their lives to protect its promise."
The president added that "their spirit gives us strength to continue their work of securing and renewing the liberties that all Americans cherish."
"In solemn reflection, we gather -- in small towns and big cities, on battlefields, in cemeteries, and at sacred places where blood has been shed for freedom's cause -- throughout our country and around the world to remember the unbroken chain of patriots who won independence, saved our Union, defeated fascism, and protected the Nation we love from emerging threats in a changing world," Obama wrote.
The president noted that the nation's sense of gratitude to those who made the ultimate sacrifice also extended to their families.
"As a Nation, we must uphold our obligations to these Gold Star families," Obama wrote. "We have pledged to them that they will never walk alone -- that their country will be there for them always -- and we must work every day to make good on this promise."
Obama stated that "the valor and distinction of the women and men who defend freedom, justice, and peace" would never be forgotten. He made several pledges in his proclamation.
"We rededicate ourselves to commitments equal to the caliber of those who have rendered the highest service: to support our troops with the resources they need to do their jobs; to never stop searching for those who have gone missing or are prisoners of war; to ensure all our veterans have access to the care and benefits they have earned and deserve; and to continue our constant work of building a Nation worthy of the heroes we honor today," Obama wrote.
Obama added that he made the proclamation after Congress passed a joint resolution passed in 1950 stating that the president "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."
"I request the Governors of the United States and its Territories, and the appropriate officials of all units of government, to direct that the flag be flown at half-staff until noon on this Memorial Day on all buildings, grounds, and naval vessels throughout the United States and in all areas under its jurisdiction and control," Obama wrote. "I also request the people of the United States to display the flag at half-staff from their homes for the customary forenoon period."