Take time to remember this Memorial Day

THOSE WHO SERVE OUR nation in the Armed Forces make a solemn commitment to serve and be ready every single hour of every single day, if need be.

They also make a solemn commitment to make any sacrifice and pay any price it takes to defend our nation and our freedom – even if that means laying down their very lives.

Out of our entire year of busy activity and life, we are asked to take two days to recognize them. One is Veterans Day, when we recognize all who have served and/or are serving our nation in the Armed Forces.

The other comes next Monday – Memorial Day, when we honor the memory of those who paid the ultimate price in defense of freedom, who gave their lives in service to their country.

From the Revolutionary War to today’s Global War On Terrorism, the number of Americans who have died in combat totals nearly 850,000. That number is large enough that it would make the 11th largest city in the United States. And the total number of military deaths, combat and non-combat, in all of our wars and conflicts is more than 1.3 million – enough to make up the 7th largest city in the United States.

Those numbers constitute a huge debt that all of us who enjoy living in the United States – and the freedom that includes – owe to all those men and women.

Many of those deaths came in the Vietnam War, a time that saw great political divisions and conflicts in American society.

But despite all those disagreements, the one thing we should all unite on is honoring those who answered the call and fell in the line of duty.

More than 1,000 of those are included in a special section in today’s Review, Wisconsin Faces. This 40-page section, produced by the Wisconsin Newspaper Association in conjunction with the Dodge County Pioneer, includes photos of all 1,161 Wisconsin residents who are listed on the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Wall in Washington, D.C.

Among the faces are many from across Sheboygan County, including three Plymouth High School graduates – Marine Lance Cpl. John P. Gannon, killed in action June 27, 1967; Army Specialist Loren L. Ertel, killed in action Oct. 10, 1967; and Army Sgt. LeRoy Edmund Thelen, killed in action July 9, 1970.

Theirs are among the faces and names which should be remembered and honored on Memorial Day.

The holiday also serves as an unofficial start to the summer season for many. There will be plenty of things to distract everyone this weekend.

After another long winter, the temptation is strong to take advantage of the long holiday weekend to launch all manner of summertime activities. It will be a weekend of family gatherings, trips, picnics, boating, fishing, hiking, bicycling and many, many other summer recreational pursuits.

But we should all take some time out of our busy weekend to honor those who have paid the ultimate price and to reflect on the legacy they have left us.

There are memorial ceremonies scheduled from one end of the county to the other, from the town of Rhine to the village of Adell, from the city of Sheboygan to the town of Greenbush. A complete listing can be found on page 2 of today’s Review.

It’s only a couple of hours to give up in the middle of a long weekend, but that represents only the smallest fraction of what they gave up for us. All of the freedoms we enjoy, all of the activities we will take part in, were assured and preserved for us by their service and sacrifice.

Take time to remember Monday.

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