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Memorial Day remembrance

Stage freight

Spectators watch the U.S. Air Force Honor Guard ceremonial guardsmen present the colors at the National Memorial Day Concert in Washington, May 26, 2019. Memorial Day, otherwise known as 'Decoration Day,' was first acknowledged at Arlington National Cemetery in Arlington, VA. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Alyssa D. Van Hook)

Check out those lights

People wait for the next performance to begin at the National Memorial Day Concert in Washington, May 26, 2019. Memorial Day, celebrated on the last Monday of ever May, became a federal holiday in 1971. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Alyssa D. Van Hook)

Singing with the sergeants

The U.S. Air Force Band Singing Sergeants perform alongside U.S. Army Voices and Downrange and U.S. Navy Band Sea Chanters at the National Memorial Day Concert in Washington, May 26, 2019. Over Memorial Day weekend, The U.S. Air Force Band held several performances in honor of America's fallen heros. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Alyssa D. Van Hook)

The show goes on

The U.S. Air Force Band Max Impact performs during the National Salute to America’s Heroes Air and Sea Show in Miami Beach, Fl., May 26, 2019. Max Impact performed during the air and sea show to honor service members and local first responders. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Michael S. Murphy)

Prepping for the show

Tech. Sgt. Gabriel Staznik, U.S. Air Force Band Max Impact drummer, prepares to perform during the National Salute to America’s Heroes Air and Sea Show in Miami Beach, Fl., May 26, 2019. Max Impact performed during the air and sea show to honor service members and local first responders. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Michael S. Murphy)

Max Impact performs

Tech. Sgt. Nalani Quintello, U.S. Air Force Band Max Impact vocalist, sings during the National Salute to America’s Heroes Air and Sea Show in Miami Beach, Fl., May, 26, 2019. Max Impact performed during the air and sea show to honor service members and local first responders. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Michael S. Murphy)

parade day

U.S. Air Force Honor Guard ceremonial guardsmen stand at attention after marching in the 2019 National Memorial Day Parade on Constitution Avenue in Washington, May 27. 2019. The honor guard promotes the Air Force’s mission by showcasing excellence, attention to detail and discipline at public and military venues. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Noah Sudolcan)

Front facing

U.S. Air Force Honor Guard marches in the 2019 National Memorial Day Parade on Constitution Avenue in Washington, May 27. 2019. Of the approximate 6,000 individuals who participated in the parade, about 4,000 were veterans. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Noah Sudolcan)

Washington Monument walk-by

The Joint Service Color Guard marches in the 2019 National Memorial Day Parade on Constitution Avenue in Washington, May 27. 2019. Memorial Day, observed on the last Monday of May, is in honor of the servicemen and women who made the ultimate sacrifice for our country. (U.S. Air Force photo Airman 1st Class Noah Sudolcan)

Curb sitting
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Children in attendance at the 2019 National Memorial Day Parade wave flags and cheer as the U.S. Air Force Honor Guard marches past on Constitution Avenue in Washington, May 27, 2019. The honor guard promotes the Air Force’s mission by showcasing excellence, attention to detail and discipline as a tool to recruit, retain and inspire Airman. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Noah Sudolcan)

Lead the pack
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Guests in attendance at the 2019 National Memorial Day Parade watch as the U.S. Air Force Honor Guardsmen march in the parade on Constitution Avenue in Washington, May 27. 2019. Approximately 43 million Americans traveled for Memorial Day weekend. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Noah Sudolcan)

Flag soaring high
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The U.S. Ceremonial Honor Guard, consisting of platoons from each branch, marches in the 2019 National Memorial Day Parade on Constitution Avenue in Washington, May 27. 2019. The annual parade is on its 15th year and is our nation’s largest Memorial Day event. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Noah Sudolcan)

holding the bayonets
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U.S. Air Force Honor Guard ceremonial guardsmen stand and wait to begin the 2019 National Memorial Day Parade on Constitution Avenue in Washington, D.C., May 27. 2019. The honor guard promotes the Air Force’s mission by showcasing excellence, attention to detail and discipline at public and military venues. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Noah Sudolcan)

JOINT BASE ANDREWS, Md. --

In the spring of 1865, the U.S. Civil War ended with a devastating loss for America -- more lives were claimed than any other conflict in U.S. history.

In an effort to remember those who had fallen, General John A. Logan, leader of an organization for Northern Civil War Veterans, said, "The 30th of May, 1868, is designated for the purpose of strewing with flowers, or otherwise decorating the graves of comrades who died in defense of their country during the late rebellion, and whose bodies now lie in almost every city, village and hamlet churchyard in the land."

Decoration Day, coined from Logan's speech, continued on and evolved as World War I and II resolved, and the number of brave men and women who died in defense of our nation rose.

As years went by, and Decoration Day continued to be observed, a federal holiday was born. Congress passed the Uniform Holiday Act in 1968, and in 1971, Memorial Day was declared a federal holiday, recognized every year on the last Monday of May.

On Memorial Day, American citizens honor and remember those lost in conflict by visiting gravesites, attending ceremonial parades and tribute concerts, and performing a moment of silence. This year, Department of Defense employees from across the country showed remembrance, to include members of the U.S. Air Force Honor Guard, and the U.S. Air Force Band.

"Memorial Day gives Americans an opportunity to remember all our fallen pioneers from all branches of the military," said Senior Master Sgt. Philip Krzywicki, U.S. Air Force Band's Concert Band French Horn player.

One way the band facilitates remembering lost service members is through performances like the 2019 National Memorial Day Choral Festival at the John F. Kennedy Performing Arts Center in Washington, May 26, 2019.

"I enjoyed performing in this event," said Krzywicki. "It's a stirring program meant to inspire viewers and honor our national heroes on this holiday."

Among the performers were singers from choirs all around the country. Retired U.S. Air Force Col. Arnald D. Gabriel, the sole survivor of his U.S. Army platoon during the first invasion on D-Day in Normandy, France, conducted two pieces during the show.

Arlington National Cemetery in Arlington, Virginia, the final resting place for many veterans lost at home and abroad, plays a major role in Memorial Day. Logan's speech calling for Decoration Day was first given at this historical burial ground.

Airman 1st Class Victor G. Li, U.S. Air Force Honor Guard ceremonial guardsman, gives his reflections on what Memorial Day means to him, as a citizen of the United States and as a guardsman for Arlington National Cemetery.

"I immigrated to the United States at age 16," said Li. "I am very proud to serve the country, which was able to open its doors to my family and I during a harsh time -- due to the men and women who fell protecting it." 

"Now every time I go out on a mission at Arlington, I regard it as a personal memorial day. I get to honor those who proved their devotion and dedicated themselves to this country by proudly representing every member of the armed forces," said Li.

Senior Airman Joron Foster, U.S. Air Force Honor Guard ceremonial guardsman, marched in the 2019 National Memorial Day Parade in Washington on May 27.

"Our day-to-day job is to pay respect to Air Force enlistees and officers. On Memorial Day, we get to represent a lot more," said Foster.

Approximately 1.3 million service members paid the ultimate price for the welfare of America.

In our nation's capital, we pay tribute to those fallen brothers and sisters through memorials, heavily visited on Memorial Day.

On one of these monuments, The Korean War Veterans Memorial, is a plaque inscribed: "Our nation honors her sons and daughters who answered the call to defend a country they never knew and a people they never met."

The quote draws a parallel to current U.S. citizens, who live in a country liberated by men and women they do not know. Those war heroes did not get the opportunity to grow old with their country. They did not witness the payoff for their sacrifices.

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