By the President of the United States of America
"What we obtain too cheap, we esteem too lightly," Thomas Paine wrote in 1776, "it is dearness only that gives everything its value. Heaven knows how to put a proper price upon its goods, and it would be strange indeed if so celestial an article as freedom should not be highly rated." The war in the Persian Gulf has reminded all Americans of the value of freedom and the the price that many brave men and women have been willing to bear for its sake. Neither "summer soldiers" nor "sunshine patriots," the members of Operation Desert Storm did not shrink from service to their country when the dark clouds of armed conflict gathered in the Persian Gulf, and, like the early patriots of whom Thomas Paine wrote, they deserve our respect and thanks. Those who made the ultimate sacrifice in the effort to liberate Kuwait joined a long line of heroes who have given their lives for our country, and on Memorial Day we remember all of them with solemn pride and heartfelt appreciation.
Whether we engage in quiet prayer or in public ceremony, whether we remember loved ones and neighbors or heroes known only to God, all Americans are united on this day in thanksgiving for the blessings of liberty and for the brave and selfless individuals who have helped to secure them. The sacrifices of those who fell in the Persian Gulf are a fresh and vivid memory, but on this occasion we also remember those who died while serving in places such as Panama, Grenada, Beirut, Korea, and Vietnam. We also honor with undiminished pride and gratitude those who served decades ago, during World Wars I and II.
On Memorial Day, we echo in prayer the fervent hope that these Americans expressed with their very lives: the hope for lasting peace among nations. Knowing that any peace purchased by the surrender of principle can be neither genuine nor enduring, we pray for wisdom and resolve in our efforts to avert future conflicts and to establish a new world order based on respect for human rights and the rule of law. Knowing too that our freedom has been obtained at a very high cost, we also pray that we might remain a people worthy of so precious a gift. Declaring that "the times that try men's souls are over," Thomas Paine wrote: "The world has seen [America] great in adversity . . . and rising in resolve as the storm increased . . . . Let the world then see that she can bear prosperity and that her honest virtue in time of peace is equal to the bravest virtue in time of war."
In recognition of those Americans to whom we pay tribute today, the Congress, by a 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 people of the United States might unite in prayer.
Now, Therefore, I, George Bush, President of the United States of America, do hereby designate Memorial Day, May 27, 1991, 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 prayer. I urge the members of the media to cooperate 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 during 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 fourteenth day of May 16, in the year of our Lord nineteen hundred the ninety-one, and of the Independence of the United States of America the two hundred and fifteenth.