Friday, May 28, 2010

The Meaning of Memorial Day

Memorial Day is much more than a three-day weekend that marks the start of summer. To many people, especially the thousands of combat veterans, Memorial Day is an important reminder of those who died in service to this country.

Those of us who are still alive can't possibly repay the sacrifice of those who died while defending us. But at the very least, we can, and we must remember them.

Tragically, more than one million men and women have died in service to this nation in wars and conflicts since 1775. Most were young and in the prime of their lives. Some were husbands, wives, fathers or mothers. Every one of them left a nation that is forever in their debt.

While Memorial Day is intended to honor our fallen, we shouldn't forget those who have pledged to make the same sacrifice if called upon - the young men and women still serving in Iraq, Afghanistan, the United States and in more than 130 foreign lands.

The "Memorial" in Memorial Day has been ignored by too many for too long. Here are a couple ideas on how to properly remember thise who have made the ultimate sacrifice:

- Visit cemeteries and place flags or flowers on the graves of our fallen Heroes
- Visit memorials
- Fly the U.S. Flag at half-staff until noon
- Fly the POW/MIA Flag as well (Section 1082 of the 1998 Defense Authorization Act)
- Participate in the "National Moment of Remembrance" at 3pm to pause and think upon the true meaning of the day, and for Taps to be played
- Renew a pledge to aid the widows, widowers and orphans of our fallen dead, and to aid disable veterans

So on Memorial Day, on this most sacred day, we should pause to relfect on what has been given and sacrificed. Let us never forget. Freedom is not a gift. It is an earned benefit that was paid for by the blood of our Heroes. From the Revolutionary War to the War on Terrorism, the sacrifices and talent of America's fighting men and women have been nothing short of inspirational.

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