The Journal Register (Medina, NY)

Opinion

June 1, 2011

CONFER: Memorial Day is more than a long weekend

MIDDLEPORT —  

Americans everywhere are enjoying this long weekend, an extended respite from the daily grind of work or school. It’s a joyous occasion, the unofficial start to summer.

That enjoyment of life and the rare chance to relax too often mask the real meaning of the Memorial Day holiday, one that recognizes the men and women who gave their lives so that we — and others around the world — might savor these weekends shared with family and friends.

It’s vitally important that each and every one of us take some time this weekend to honor those who fell in battle. You need not partake in a parade or attend a solemn service, but you should, in your own way, quietly and genuinely reflect upon and appreciate the accomplishments and lives of our fine militaries of wars past and present.

Since the start of the Revolutionary War, 1.344 million people have paid the price for American goals. To put that into perspective, that’s slightly more than the population of the entire Western New York region. So, imagine all of the homes and streets being completely devoid of people from Niagara Falls to Jamestown and all points in between and near. That haunting visual should give you a feel for the scale of sacrifice.

It should also give you ample reason to set aside some time to appreciate the meaning of those sacrifices. Those soldiers, sailors and airmen saw and experienced horrors that very few of us ever will, and they gave their lives so that others may live, for the creation and preservation of human rights here and abroad, and for the furthering of our national interests.

America, the greatest and freest nation ever conceived, would never have existed had men not fought to the death against British tyranny.

She would never have remained intact, nor would 3.5 million blacks have been freed from slavery, had the North not found it morally necessary to preserve our nation or better the human existence.

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