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Honor sacrifice, service this Memorial Day

Honor sacrifice, service this Memorial Day Honor sacrifice, service this Memorial Day

The grass is green.

Fields and forest floors are dotted with bright spots of color from millions of blooming wild flowers. The trees are covered with bright-green new leaves. The scent of lilacs drifts by on the breeze.

After the long, dark cold days of winter and the equally cold and wet days of early spring, Wisconsinites are eager to emerge into the hazy sunlight and squeeze every minute possible from the all too brief summer season.

Ignoring the calendar or what meteorologists say, Memorial Day weekend has traditionally marked the beginning of the summer season. It is the weekend of the first big barbecue of the season, of gatherings with family and friends and of sharing stories around a campfire late into the night.

These are all great things to do and after the past several months it is time to shake off the last cobwebs and embrace the summer season. Be safe. Have fun.

But, before you slip entirely into summer mode, make time this weekend to show respect and to express your gratitude to those whose sacrifices ensured your ability to be free.

Monday is Memorial Day. It is the day set aside each year to remember those who gave, in the words of president Abraham Lincoln, “The last full measure of devotion.” It is the day when we as a country take the time to gather at monuments and around worn gravestones reading the roll call of lives cut short in the defense of freedom.

Speeches and poems are read. Prayers are given. Volleys of guns are fired in salute. A bugler’s sad tones end the ceremony. Grizzled veterans load into their cars and drive to the next cemetery on the list where the service is repeated and repeated until all the honored dead are remembered.

In larger communities, the ceremonies take place at monuments which serve as focal points of service and sacrifice. The ceremony is much the same, perhaps with the addition of a politician or two using the opportunity to visit with constituents.

Whether you go to one of these public ceremonies, or instead choose to honor those who died in service to America in your own way, the important thing is to remember and to not allow that sacrifice to be forgotten or taken for granted. Equally as important is to keep the memory of their sacrifices in your heart and minds throughout the year. Do not squander the precious gift of freedom or give it over to demagogues or those whose goal is to amass power or pad their own pockets at the expense of American ideals and freedoms.