Memorial Day was agreed to have started in 1866 Waterloo, N.Y. As a veteran of the Spanish-American war, Roosevelt was active in memorials to fallen American's, and Memorial day observation was no exception. Here are some highlights from a speech at Arlington Cemetery he gave on Memorial Day 1902 while President. It is important to remember that the aging soldiers he addressed had fought in the Civil War. "It is a good custom for our country to have certain solemn holidays in commemoration of our greatest men and of the greatest crises in our history. There should be but few such holidays. To increase their number is to cheapen them. Washington and Lincoln the man who did most to found the Union, and the man who did most to preserve it stand head and shoulders above all our other public men, and have by common consent won the right to this preeminence. Among the holidays which commemorate the turning points in American history, Thanksgiving has a significance peculiarly its own. On July 4 we celebrate the birth of the nation; on this day, the 30th of May, we call to mind the deaths of those who died that the nation might live, who wagered all that life holds dear for the great prize of death in battle, who poured out their blood like water in order that the mighty national structure raised by the far-seeing genius of Washington, Franklin, Marshall, Hamilton, and the other great leaders of the Revolution, great framers of the Constitution, should not crumble into meaningless ruins.
You whom I address to-day and your comrades who wore the blue beside you in the perilous years during which strong, sad, patient Lincoln bore the crushing load of national leadership, performed the one feat the failure to perform which would have meant destruction to everything which makes the name America a symbol of hope among the nations of mankind. You did the greatest and most necessary task which has ever fallen to the lot of any men on this Western Hemisphere. Nearly three centuries have passed since the waters of our coasts were first furrowed by the keels of those whose children s children were to inherit this fair land. Over a century and a half of colonial growth followed the settlement; and now for over a century and a quarter we have been a nation. During our four generations of national life we have had to do many tasks, and some of them of far-reaching importance; but the only really vital task was the one you did, the task of saving the Union. There were other crises in which to have gone wrong would have meant disaster; but this was the one crisis in which to have gone wrong would have meant not merely disaster but annihilation. For failure at any other point atonement could have been made; but had you failed in the iron days the loss would have been irreparable, the defeat irretrievable. Upon your success depended all the future of the people on this continent, and much of the future of mankind as a whole. You left us a reunited country. You left us the right of brotherhood with the men in gray, who with such courage, and such devotion for what they deemed the right, fought against you. But you left us much more even than your achievement, for you left us the memory of how it was achieved. You, who made good by your valor and patriotism the statesmanship of Lincoln and the soldiership of Grant, have set as the standards for our efforts in the future both the way you did your work in war and the way in which, when the war was over, you turned again to the work of peace. In war and in peace alike your example will stand as the wisest of lessons to us and our children and our children's children. " This memorial day, attend your local memorial day remembrance. Remember, you will be blessed with spending the day with friends and family, an opportunity created through a sacrifice by others before you.