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Thoughts to carry along the Memorial Day road . . .

This day has been given to us.

Memorial Day is a day for the living to collectively honor our nation’s dead warriors. This makes today a gift in the truest sense.

Annually the fourth Monday of May is the official day set aside for our nation to gather in collective reflection, but we need to regard our brave fallen responders much more frequently. After all, every day is an extraordinary gift from all of our service men and women who have given up their lives for the good of our nation – each life laid down in trade for the personal safety and freedom of every person who calls this great land their home.

America’s devastating Civil War took more than 600,000 lives, touching off loss and suffering in every village and town in our land. The very first Memorial Day was designated the 30th of May 1868, as a day to decorate the graves of our fallen soldiers.

General John Logan, commander of the veterans group the Grand Army of the Republic (1868) wrote, “We should guard their graves with sacred vigilance . . . Let pleasant paths invite the coming and going of reverent visitors and fond mourners. Let no neglect, no ravages of time, testify to the present or to the coming generations that we have forgotten as a people the cost of a free and undivided republic.”

The last eight years has again seen death and sadness penetrate deeply into our American life. Active duty service personnel and soldiers of our National Guard have deployed repeatedly to Afghanistan and Iraq.  Memorial Day touches closer to home as it devastates more and more American families each year. The veil of grief and loss has stricken every state in our land.

Memorial Day . . . a day to decorate and commemorate our fallen service people.

Memorial Day . . . a day to commemorate and decorate the graves of our fallen service people.

Today as we continue to honor our dead, it is a good time to make an extra attempt to remind those who are still with us that we do not take them for granted either. There is little in life that should ever be taken for granted, for in fact, each new day casts a different light and shifts the road of circumstances around us.

Wherever the road takes you this Memorial Day, I urge you to not only give pause, but let small joys and everyday blessings remind you to enjoy today more than any other day in your life. Then carry this joy forward with each new dawn, because living in our great nation is truly a privilege that has been given to us.