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                      Office of the Press Secretary
                            (Yulee, Florida)
For Immediate Release                                       May 27, 1999
                  PRAYER FOR PEACE, MEMORIAL DAY, 1999
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                             A PROCLAMATION

The challenges to our Nation's peace and freedom are as old as American history and as new as today's headlines. They have taken many forms through the years, from the bitter discord of civil war at home to the aggression of tyrants abroad. But the price of peace and freedom has always remained the same: the service and sacrifice of our young men and women in uniform.

Looking back across the decades, we marvel at the valor and determination of these gallant Americans who, in each generation, have stepped forward to preserve our freedom, defend our democracy, uphold our ideals, and protect our interests. The battles in which they fought and died -- Brandywine, Gettysburg, San Juan Hill, Belleau Wood, Coral Sea, Inchon, Khe Sahn -- are a testament to uncommon courage and indomitable spirit. Those who survived were forever changed. Those who died stay forever young in their loved ones' memories. Their final thoughts most likely were of home and family; their final actions purchased the freedom we enjoy today.

Now, on Memorial Day, our thoughts turn to them. We remember with profound gratitude those who took to the seas and skies in moments of peril for our Nation. We remember those who marched through mud or rice paddies, snow or sand, because they knew, as President Eisenhower reminded us, that "a soldier's pack is not so heavy a burden as a prisoner's chains" and that true peace is won only by those willing to die for it. We remember those in the Normandy American Cemetery overlooking Omaha Beach who, 55 years ago, relit the torch of freedom in a war-weary Europe. We remember those whose final resting place is unknown, but whose sacrifice is known to us all. The passing of time and the blessings of peace and prosperity can never make us forget what these brave Americans endured and what they lost so that right would triumph, freedom would survive, and our Nation would prevail.

In honor of all the courageous men and women who gave their lives in defense of our Nation and our fundamental ideals, I ask that every American say a prayer for lasting peace on this Memorial Day. I ask that every American remember our heroic war dead in some special way, whether by placing flowers on a veteran's grave, lighting a candle, observing a moment of silence, or saying a prayer of thanks. While we can never fully repay our debt to America's fallen warriors, we can remember their service and honor their sacrifice.

In respect and recognition of the courageous men and women to whom we pay tribute, the Congress, by joint resolution approved on May 11, 1950 (64 Stat. 158), 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 on that day when the American people might unite in prayer.

NOW, THEREFORE, I, WILLIAM J. CLINTON, President of the United States of America, do hereby proclaim Memorial Day, May 31, 1999, as a day of prayer for permanent peace, and I designate the hour beginning at 3:00 p.m. EDT of that day as a time to join in prayer. I urge the press, radio, television, and all other information media to take part in this observance.

I also request the Governors of the United States and the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico, and the appropriate officials of all units of government, to direct that the flag be flown at half-staff until noon on this Memorial Day on all buildings, grounds, and naval vessels throughout the United States and in all areas under its jurisdiction and control, and I request the people of the United States to display the flag at half-staff from their homes for the customary forenoon period.

IN WITNESS WHEREOF, I have hereunto set my hand this twenty-sixth day of May, in the year of our Lord nineteen hundred and ninety-nine, and of the Independence of the United States of America the two hundred and twenty-third.


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