Heroes, all: Memorial Day is our chance to say thank you
Most of them were barely more than children themselves.
Yet, they answered a call.
Many of them were volunteers. Some simply drew a draft card number that sent them overseas.
But in the end, whether they were from the Greatest Generation, battled in the jungles of Vietnam or the frigid climes of Korea or fought in the desert in the Middle East, these soldiers, sailors, airmen and Marines risked their own lives for something bigger and for people they did not even know or would ever meet.
And in some cases, they simply did not make it back home.
There are thousands of stories that could be told on just about any Memorial Day. They involve men and women who risked their lives on battlefields all over the world.
Almost all of them involve a bit of heroism, a moment when, faced with a difficult, if not impossible, choice, these service members had to gather up their courage and act without considering the risk or consequences.
And in some cases, that meant sacrificing their own lives, their own futures.
On Monday, there will be many family outings and cookouts. And, there will be no school.
And while a few people might think about why they have the day off, they probably really won't take the time to think about what Memorial Day really means.
This is a holiday when we say thank you, when we honor those who fought and died so that we can be free.
Putting out an American flag is the least we can do, but there will be more opportunities to remember.
There will be ceremonies and events through this weekend -- including several today.
And there will be a community gathering Monday -- the official ceremony of the day meant to honor heroes.
And if you can possibly manage it, you should be there, especially if you have children or grandchildren.
Generations of Americans tell and hear stories about our fallen heroes, but it is never too early to teach a child that freedom often comes with a price.
This is that chance.
We will also share the day, too, with the families who were forced to go on without a treasured brother, son, father or uncle. We will try to understand the pain of saying goodbye to a mother, sister or best friend.
And we will stand with those who can never forget the comrades they lost in a moment on a battlefield.
Memorial Day is special. It is our chance to let our heroes and their families know they will never be forgotten, and to express our admiration for those who gave so much for their flag and their nation.
That is a debt that can never be repaid.
Published in Editorials on May 26, 2012 11:12 PM