Adjutant General’s 2016 Memorial Day Message

Maj. Gen. Timothy P. Williams

Maj. Gen. Timothy P. Williams

Memorial Day is an important time for us to pause and remember those who have made the ultimate sacrifice in defending our nation. I encourage everyone to make time on May 30 to join in a community ceremony, take a personal moment of silence or encourage a group of friends and family to honor our fallen comrades.

Memorial Day was originally known as Decoration Day, and it was first observed on May 30, 1868, at Arlington National Cemetery with the decorating of graves of fallen Civil War soldiers and continued through the years. In 1971, Congress declared Memorial Day on the last Monday in May a national holiday. Many of those honored in 1868 served in their state militias, and that tradition of Citizen-Warrior service has carried on through our nation’s conflicts in World Wars I and II, Korea, Vietnam, the first Gulf War and the Global War on Terror.

At the Commonwealth’s Memorial Day ceremony we will remember the fallen at the Virginia War Memorial, to include the 10 Soldiers we have lost to hostile enemy action since September 11, 2001. It is important that we never forgot these brave men, and we should keep their families in our thoughts and prayers during the time of remembrance. You can read more about those Soldiers at

On June 6 we will honor the service and sacrifice of Virginia National Guard Soldiers as well as other branches of the service at the National D-Day Memorial in Bedford. More than 800 members of the 116th Infantry were killed, wounded or missing during the assault on Omaha Beach on June 6, 1944, but their courage and bravery helped create a foothold that allowed follow on forces to continue the assault and set the stage for Allied victory in Europe.

The Memorial Day Holiday weekend also marks the beginning of the summer season, and it is important that we keep safety in mind in all that we do on duty as well as during our personal time. We need every Soldier, Airman, Virginia Defense Force trooper and state and federal civilian employee to stay safe and healthy so they can do their part in making our missions successful.

Right now we have more than 1,000 Soldiers and Airmen on federal active duty training or engaged in security operations and other missions in Cuba, Qatar, Kuwait and other locations around the world. We wish them all a safe and speedy return.

I am extremely proud of our continued contribution to safety and security of both commonwealth and country, and I thank each of you for the role you play. It is an honor to serve with you all.