08/04/09 — A small price: Memorial ceremony is residents' chance to say 'thank you'

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A small price: Memorial ceremony is residents' chance to say 'thank you'

It is just a little bit less than a half-hour out of your life this Thursday morning.

And all that is required of you is to stand, to listen and to put your hand over your heart -- or to salute if you are a veteran -- when the national anthem is played and the flag presented.

And you might have to pray a little, too.

That investment of time is in stark contrast to the sacrifices that will be honored at this week's public memorial service to honor Capt. Mark McDowell and Capt. Thomas Gramith.

The two F-15E air crew members died when their jet went down in Afghanistan.

What a supreme loss for this country and this community.

The memorial service Thursday is our chance to stand up, to salute the flag and to let the Seymour Johnson Air Force Base community know that we support them -- and that we understand the depth of their sacrifice and the risks they take every day.

And it is a chance for us to honor two heroes this community, and their colleagues and families, lost much too soon.

City leaders decided to have the ceremony to allow the community to honor these men for their heroism after numerous requests for a public memorial. Memorial services last week were only available to a limited number of people.

Capt. McDowell and Capt. Gramith might not have been our own, but their adopted hometown most certainly will remember them both and pray for their comrades in arms who continue to serve -- and the families they left behind.

Now is your chance to show your support and gratitude to those who serve and those who gave all.

So come on down to City Hall Thursday. It will only be a small amount of time, but it will show that you -- and this community -- will never, ever forget that freedom is never free.

Published in Editorials on August 4, 2009 12:29 PM