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Memorial Day

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To paraphrase a great president, "The world will little note, nor long remember what we say here, but it can never forget what our fallen soldiers did. It is for us the living, rather, to be dedicated to the unfinished work which they who fought have thus far so nobly advanced. It is rather for us to be here dedicated to the great task remaining before us -- that from these honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which they gave the last full measure of devotion" This was part of Abraham Lincoln's, Gettysburg Address in 1863.

It is for just this reason, the remembering of those fallen soldiers, that we are gathered here today. We celebrate the sacrifices of not just those soldiers from the wars that seem so long ago, the Revolutionary, the Civil, the first and second World Wars, but the more recent ones, Korea, Vietnam, the Gulf War, that have claimed the lives of soldiers who fought for the freedoms and ideals of our country.

Memorial Day, just the name of the holiday brings to mind flags, parades, men and women in uniform, but where did this holiday begin? Decoration Day, as it was first called, has always been a very important day to all Americans. As early as the Civil War, there is evidence of organized groups decorating graves of fallen soldiers as well as people gathering to honor these brave dead. Memorial Day was an official proclamation on May 5th, 1868 by General John Logan who was the national commander of the Grand Army of the Republic, and it was observed for the first time on May 30th of that same year by the placing of flowers on the graves of President Lincoln and soldiers at Arlington National Cemetery. It was then recognized by the state of New York in 1873 and grew from there. By 1890 all of the Northern States in the Union recognized Memorial Day, though the Southern States continued to honor their Civil War dead on a separate day until World War I, when the country combined to celebrate the day on the Last Monday of the Month of May. It doesn't really matter, though, how this holiday came about, what matters is that it is - that it exists to honor all of our country's brave soldiers.

It also has a special meaning for me, especially this year, as I am saying goodbye to my uncle, a Captain in the Navy. He is leaving in a few days for a six-month tour of duty, flying P-3 fighter jets, first in Djibouti, Africa, then in Baghdad and Iraq. I realize that my freedoms and many of the things that I take for granted in everyday life, were won by people like my uncle who realized the importance of fighting for those things that make life worthwhile.

We all know of, or were close to many people who have sacrificed their lives to make ours better. Without these soldiers, we would have a very different past and our country would have a dismal future. All of the wars that these brave men and women have been involved in are for us, and the well-being



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