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– Editorial – - Pay your respects this Memorial Day


By Editorial Board

For most of the year, the graves of fallen soldiers look just the same as anyone else’s.

A field of green, with orderly rows of stones, some new, with edges still sharp from the carvers’ tools, others faded, with wind and weather. Some lay broken, either through some force of nature or act of unthinking vandalism.

One would have to be observant and check the dates, to see the patterns emerge. The gravestones tell the silent stories of the young men who went off to war, only to come home again in a coffin or maybe not at all.

If you head out to a cemetery this weekend, in among the wildflowers valiantly resisting the caretaker’s mower blades, a different kind of flower is in bloom. This strange flower has a stalk of wood and on its crest, has a banner of red, blue and white, with stripes and stars, in a field of blue, waving proudly in the breeze.

Each Memorial Day, volunteers spend many hours, placing flags on the graves of fallen service members. It is a small token of remembrance for those who, in the words of Pres. Abraham Lincoln, “gave the last full measure of devotion.”

The flags are a token of respect and give guidance to those who venture into the serenity of a cemetery, to pay personal respect and to give thanks, to those who fought and died to protect the freedoms, and liberties of all Americans, now and into the future.

Within those fields of stones and flags, is the reminder that nothing comes without sacrifice, be it for your comrades, your families, your homeland or in defense of the ideals of liberty. Among those silent, flag-decorated graves, are the children of people long since passed, brothers of those who still mourn their loss, neighbors and friends.

Memorial Day weekend is the unofficial start of the summer season. It has long been a time for people to gather, and given its timing and the long-weekend, it is understandable that it became a festive time to celebrate the start of the short and intense summer season. It is a time of barbecues, yard work and of planting gardens.

It is also a time to remember and a time to honor.

Take the time this Memorial Day weekend, to visit a cemetery and read the names of the flagdecorated graves, so that their names and sacrifices are never forgotten.

Take time on Memorial Day, to attend services held throughout the country. An hour or two out of your day off, is a small duty, in light of the ultimate sacrifice made by those being remembered.

Members of the Courier Sentinel editorial board include publisher Carol O’Leary, general manager Kris O’Leary and Star News editor Brian Wilson.