Pause and remember this Memorial Day weekend


WHO SERVE OR have served – our country in the Armed

Forces can generally be divided into three categories.

There are those who are currently serving, either in the active military, the Reserves or the National Guard. There are those who honorably served in the past, and then there are those who not only served but also made the ultimate sacrifice, giving their lives in the defense of freedom and liberty.

Those in the first group were recognized last Saturday on Armed Forces Day, celebrated the third Saturday of every May.

Those in the middle group are honored every year on Veterans Day, Nov. 11.

And for those who paid the greatest price, we are asked to pause and remember this weekend when Memorial Day comes Monday, May 28.

Memorial Day began as Decoration Day in the dark years following the Civil War, a day when the graves of those who fell in America’s bloodiest war – the war that reaffirmed that this nation would endure as one – were decorated to memorialize and commemorate the dead.

As Abraham Lincoln put it so eloquently in his Gettysburg Address, the men and women we are asked to honor on Memorial Day “gave the last full measure of devotion” to preserve and protect this “nation, conceived in Liberty, and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal.”

As this nation continued to fight wars to preserve and expand the freedoms and ideals sealed in blood in the Civil War, the roll of those who made the ultimate sacrifice grew longer and longer.

From the Revolutionary War to the Global War on Terrorism today, 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 add up to a huge debt that all of us who enjoy living in the United

States, and the freedoms that includes, owe to those men and women.

Still today, young men and women are answering the call to preserve, protect and defend those freedoms and rights, putting themselves in harm’s way and still making the greatest sacrifice to keep us free.

We can and will continue to disagree about many things. We can and will continue to express our bumper sticker sentiments on either side of the political fence. We can and will continue to have our differences of opinions and beliefs.

But we should all agree to give thanks and honor to all of those who did their part to ensure that this nation continues to be strong, free and independent, with a place and a voice for each and every one of us.

They gave so much and we are asked to do so little – just take a few moments or hours out of our busy weekend and lives to remember and recognize what they have done for us.

There are memorial ceremonies scheduled this weekend 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.

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 it only takes an hour or two out of a busy weekend schedule to attend a parade or memorial ceremony – or both – during the three-day weekend, and less than that to fly a flag on the holiday.

Take time to remember this weekend what the holiday is really all about.

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