Statement from USAID Acting Administrator John Barsa on Memorial Day

For Immediate Release

Friday, May 22, 2020
Office of Press Relations
Telephone: +1.202.712.4320 | Email:

Memorial Day, first observed in 1868 to honor the sacrifices of those who served in the Civil War, is now the day when we Americans pause to remember all the men and women who gave their lives while serving in the U.S. armed forces. Along with the men and women of the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), I will take time this Memorial Day to honor the ultimate sacrifice made by American service members.

The spirit of Memorial Day is perhaps best captured by this elegy from President James A. Garfield, then an Ohio Congressman who had served as a Union Major General during the Civil War, offered in memory of those who lost their lives on the battlefield:

"We do not know one promise these men made, one pledge they gave, one word they spoke; but we do know they summed up and perfected, by one supreme act, the highest virtues of men and citizens. For love of country, they accepted death, and thus resolved all doubts, and made immortal their patriotism and their virtue."

While this year's observance of Memorial Day is certain to look different from those in years past, it nevertheless remains an opportunity for all of us to reflect on the courage, selflessness, and patriotism of the U.S. military, whose members risk and give their lives in service to our country.

And as the United States deals with one of the most significant global health crises in recent memory, I want to thank the employees of USAID who have followed the path of selfless service to keep Americans and others around the world safe. We remain resolute and steadfast in our efforts to save lives and promote a stable, secure, self-reliant, and prosperous world.

Last updated: August 12, 2020

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