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Guest Column

Memorial Day: It's not just another holiday

Memorial Day by Daniel A. Ludwig, National Comander, American Legion
It's been said that the brave are not the people who have no fear. Rather, they are the people who are indeed afraid to thrust themselves into harm's way, but who do it anyway.
   America is the "home of the brave." From the Revolutionary War to peacekeeping in Bosnia, Americans have laid down their lives in military service.
   On Memorial Day, we pause to reflect on the enormity of that sacrifice, what it has done for our world, and how we should honor such valor. Memorial Day is a special day. It's a day for us to recognize those who died while fighting for the principles and aims of this country.
   When we send our men and women in uniform into harm's way, some of them fall. The loss of life which such service inflicts is not in vain.
   Americans are the most free people on the planet because Americans are willing to risk their lives to preserve that freedom. The sum of our war casualties, the graves marked with American flags, is the price of fighting for American ideals.
   William Shakespeare's dying Hamlet tells his friend Horatio to "...draw thy breath in pain to tell my story." On Memorial Day, we draw our breaths in pain and remember the stories of American men and women who died in combat. We draw our breaths in pain and remember veterans who are receiving their highest commendation, in heaven. We draw our breaths in pain and honor the fighting spirit that keeps America free.
   Many of us can connect at least one face with the meaning of Memorial Day. Some of them died in World War I. Others in World War II, Korea, Vietnam, Panama, Grenada, Kuwait, and now Bosnia. And we remember friends and relatives who survived the battle, came home, and have since gone on to what Legionnaires refer to as Post Everlasting.
   Americans place flags on the graves of war dead at this time of the year, a sobering yet necessary chore. We don't forget about our fallen comrades during the rest of the year. We simply make a special effort to honor their legacy on Memorial Day.
   Let there be no doubt about the valor of veterans who rest in our nation's cemeteries at home and abroad.
   On this Memorial Day, let us remember how Americans proved this nation to be indeed the "home of the brave."