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Memorial Day Hits Home

President Bush made his Memorial Day speech in Normandy, France - where some 9,400 men and women killed in World War II are buried.

His words - like those uttered at Memorial Day observances all across the United States - are about all U.S. war dead.

In most places on this Memorial Day, those words, thoughts and prayers included the 3,056 people who died on Sept. 11; the 15 Americans who died in combat or hostile situations in Afghanistan; the 23 who died in military crashes or while performing support roles for the Afghan military campaign; and the 10 military service members who died while on active duty in the Philippines.

In nearly every city and town Monday, there were ceremonies and parades in honor of those who served their country, and those who died doing it.

At Arlington National Cemetery, Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz took part in the traditional wreath-laying ceremony at the Tomb of the Unknowns.

In New York, where Mayor Michael Bloomberg has said Memorial Day must include those who died on Sept. 11, there was added significance to the annual ceremonies aboard the aircraft carrier which is now the Intrepid Sea Air Space Museum.

In Washington, D.C., Sunday, crowds turned out for the 15th annual Rolling Thunder "Ride for Freedom" - a huge patriotic motorcycle rally parade on wheels from the Pentagon to the Vietnam Veterans Memorial and on to the Lincoln Memorial.

Thousands of motorcyclists took part in the rally, which takes its name from a 1965 bombing mission in Vietnam.

Some of the entertainers on hand for the festivities at rally's end at the Lincoln Memorial were familiar names from the Vietnam era - Paul Revere and the Raiders, and Nancy Sinatra. They were joined by country star Billy Ray Cyrus, who made his mark with veterans' groups with his hit several years ago, "Some Gave All," which speaks of those who made the ultimate sacrifice for freedom.

Monday, many Americans paused at 3 p.m. - 3 p.m. in whatever time zone they were in - for what was called a National Moment of Remembrance.

CBS News Correspondent Steve Futterman reports many companies and organizations, including WalMart and Greyhound Bus, participated in the Moment of Remembrance. Some Amtrak trains blew their whistles to mark the moment. The astronauts aboard the space station had their own observance.

Carmella LaSpada, one of the organizers, says there were many ways Americans can observe the moment - for example, it could be "just as simple as placing your hand over your heart and saying 'Thank you.' "

The main idea was to remember what Memorial Day is all about.

Memorial Day was originally called Decoration Day, because of the wreaths, crosses and flowers placed on the graves of war veterans.

It was first observed in 1868, in one of this country's most sorrowful times: the aftermath of the Civil War.

Sunday night, the commander of the U.S. military campaign in Afghanistan, Gen. Tommy Franks, was on hand at the annual Memorial Day concert in Washington, D.C.

So was New York Police Officer Daniel Rodrigues, who began the program, in a stirring reminder of the hundreds of New York police officers and firefighters who died on the job on Sept. 11.

Some other Memorial Day 2002 highlights included:

  • In New York, hundreds of people visited Ground Zero to pay their respects. Many said the attack on the World Trade Center gave new meaning to the holiday.
  • In Kandahar, the commanding officer of U.S. troops serving in southern Afghanistan dedicated a chapel to the 51 U.S. and Canadian soldiers killed since the beginning of the U.S.-led campaign.
  • In a Memorial Day speech before Vietnam veterans in Washington, former Senator Bob Dole praised the bravery exhibited by Americans on September eleventh and in combat in Afghanistan. He said "We're now living ... in the greatest generation."
  • Hundreds visited the western Pennsylvania field where United Airlines Flight 93 crashed after an apparent struggle between hijackers and passengers.
  • In Timonium, Maryland, six names of people killed in the attack on the Pentagon were added to a memorial of military personnel killed by terrorists.
  • About 150 people gathered on the town green in Burlington, Massachusetts, to dedicate a memorial to three men who were aboard one of the planes that struck the World Trade Center.
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