As we approach Memorial Day Weekend let’s dedicate our thoughts today to remembering and honoring the meaning of the day.

Memorial Day is a solemn one that our nation sets aside to remember those who paid the ultimate price for our liberty, freedom and country. We remember and pay homage to those who gave their lives so we could live ours. 

     Our nation has been blessed from the outset with individuals willing to put their lives on hold and at risk, so that future generations could live with the freedom we have grown up with. 

 It has always come with a price. Back in grade school we all learned about the Nathan Hales and Patrick Henrys. It was only later I learned that after Patrick Henry said “as for me, give me liberty or give me death” that the British chased him around the colonies to provide the latter. Freedom comes with consequences in a world where others want to deny it. 

This year, amid the cancellations because of the virus, there will be no parades down main street, no poppy sales at stores and malls, no Town Hall events; and the missing of taps playing at public events. We are left to remember and honor on our own. It is important and right that we do.

I will hang my flag out in its holder, and adorn my front yard with more. I’ve been invited as one of a select group in our town to lay a wreath, say some prayers and hear taps at the Vietnam and Town Hall Memorials. I am honored to do so. 

As a VFW member, the last few weeks have brought memories home that the warriors from the Greatest Generation are fast leaving us, and a reminder of what they did in their time. We had three members pass who did their duty plus. 

The first was an 18 year old in 1945 who guarded German prisoners of war as VE Day approached. He was just a kid then, doing a man’s job. 
The second was one of the first to jump behind enemy lines in Italy as we began the campaign to end their support of Germany. He was captured and held as a POW.
The third was there on D-Day and serving as a medic for the oh so many wounded and dying. 

Yet, they were among the lucky ones who came home to live their lives. Thousands of whom they would never forget, never did.  On Saturday, at the funeral of the third, I spoke with one of his children. Like so many of the generation he knew little of his Dad’s exploits, because he like so many never talked about it. They saw their service as their duty and felt lucky to be back home. The challenge was to make a better life for their families, while always remembering those they left behind.

I will remember and honor them and all the others, including:

My Uncle who was killed in the final days of the Battle Of Okinawa and for whom I am named. Hopefully I’ve lived my life to honor him and the chance he never had. 

For my father-in-law, recently recognized and honored by the WWII Memorial Site for his service and actions. Wounded in The Battle of The Bulge, his wife and children knew little of his service. 
I will remember the young man I went into service with and for whom the library down the street from my childhood home is now named. I got to live a wonderful life, he never did. 

Last week a number of members and I decorated a cemetery with flags, as so many across this nation have done year after year. We placed flags to remember and say thank you again to those who served and paid the ultimate price. We finished the day with the playing of taps as we looked across a flag draped cemetery. 

Memorial Day is the day we stop to remember and say thank you. This year we will do it mostly isolated and not in big ceremonies, but the fact we do is important for the generations we are now raising. Enjoy you weekend and day, and make sure you pass the meaning of it on to the generations to follow. 

We owe it to those we honor. 

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