Prayer for Peace, Memorial Day, 1971
By the President of the United States of America
It is a tradition of our Nation, as it is a tradition of most nations, to pay homage to those who have fallen in defense of our land, our people, and our principles. These men and women honor America by their sacrifice. It is for America to honor them by its devotion to those purposes for which they perished.
We cannot dismiss with easy platitudes the debt which the deaths of our countrymen lays upon us. And while the declaration of noble sentiments, the placing of flowers and the shedding of tears of remembrance can pay deserved tribute to their sacrifices, these by themselves cannot redeem those sacrifices. So let us bear witness to the plain truth that we can only insure that our soldiers and sailors and marines and airmen have not died in vain by resolving, as citizens of the land for which they died, that we shall not ourselves live in vain.
It is a simple matter to make war, and a difficult matter to make a peace. The history of man confirms this, for it records few periods when men have not somewhere in the world waged war on their fellow men. Confirmed in this truth, we know that our concern in America must be to move hand in hand with men of all nations to make the world safe for humanity. In this manner we can insure that those who died for us did not die in vain, that out of war has come redemption, and out of the search for redemption has come a true and just and lasting peace.
To manifest the concern of the American people for the purposes of peace, Congress by a joint resolution approved May 11, 1950, has requested the President to issue a proclamation calling upon the people of the United States to observe each Memorial Day as a day of prayer for permanent peace and designating a period during such day when the people of the United States might unite in such supplication.
NOW, THEREFORE, I, RICHARD NIXON, President of the United States of America, do hereby designate Memorial Day, Monday, May 31, 1971, as a day of prayer for permanent peace, and I designate the hour beginning in each locality at 11 o'clock in the morning of that day as a time to unite in such prayer.
I urge the press, radio, television, and all other information media to cooperate in this observance.
As a special mark of respect for those Americans who have given their lives in the tragic struggle in Vietnam, I direct that the flag of the United States be flown at half-staff all day on Memorial Day, instead of during the customary forenoon period, on all buildings, grounds, and naval vessels of the Federal government throughout the United States and all areas under its jurisdiction and control.
I also request the Governors of the United States and of the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico and the appropriate officials of all local units of government to direct that the flag be flown at half-staff on all public buildings during that entire day, and request the people of the United States to display the flag at half-staff from their homes for the same period.
IN WITNESS WHEREOF, I have hereunto set my hand this 27th day of May, in the year of our Lord nineteen hundred seventy-one, and of the Independence of the United States of America the one hundred ninety-fifth.