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On Nov. 11, 1921, America paused to acknowledge the contribution of one of its heroes. Along with thousands of citizens, President Warren G. Harding, former President Woodrow Wilson, Supreme Court justices, congressional leaders, and international diplomats assembled at Arlington Cemetery in Washington D.C. to memorialize a fellow American and World War I casualty whose name, origin, and personal history were — and remain — unknown.
We close Georgia Tech’s campus on Memorial Day to honor and remember those who gave the ultimate sacrifice to our country, which remains a beacon for freedom in a tumultuous world. Americans in all 50 states and abroad are encouraged to slow down, reflect, and consider the high cost paid by so many who have come before us. This time of year is especially poignant for “The Greatest Generation” that lifted America through World War II’s dark days. Seventy-four years ago, they were young men and women, many the age of our students today, when Germany signed an act of military surrender, and the world celebrated V-E Day — Victory in Europe — on May 8, 1945.