Kokomo Tribune; Kokomo, Indiana

May 26, 2013

Forever thankful


— Monday is Memorial Day, a national holiday to remember those who have died while serving our country.

Memorial Day officially was proclaimed on May 5, 1868, when Gen. John Logan ordered flowers placed on the graves of Union and Confederate soldiers at Arlington National Cemetery.

These days, far too many tend to take Memorial Day for granted. Instead, we’ll fire up the grill, cut the grass and be thankful for a day off from work.

That’s your right.

No one will make you fly a flag in front of your house Monday, or force you to say a prayer for the fallen soldiers.

You can do whatever you choose with the holiday, thanks to your rights as an American citizen.

But if you do nothing else patriotic on Memorial Day, at the very least we ask you to stop and think about why you have those rights while so many people throughout the world do not.

The answer is quite simple: because hundreds of thousands of American military personnel have been willing to make the ultimate sacrifice in order to protect those rights.

More than 400,000 Americans died in World War II fighting for those rights. Another 36,914 never made it home from Korea, and more than 58,000 of our sons, fathers, brothers and friends lost their lives in Vietnam.

Today we focus on the war in Afghanistan, where more than 2,000 have lost their lives.

There will always be battles to be fought.

Fortunately for all of us, there will always be brave Americans willing to charge into that battle to protect our way of life.

For that, every American citizen should be forever thankful.