Gratitude and honor

“For our country, for us all,” read the Marines billboard as I drove through the nation’s heartland over Memorial Day weekend.

I turned the phrase over in my mind, thinking just what kind of courage, heart, and love of country it takes to serve in our nation’s military. A rush of thankfulness flooded over me as the tires of my Jeep Patriot ate the miles to the next destination, and farmland stretched endlessly on either side of the highway.

I whispered ‘thank you.’

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Today, our nation commemorates Memorial Day, which began as Decoration Day, when the grave decorating custom became more prevalent during and after the Civil War, honoring soldiers who died — both Union and Confederate.

Since then, the final Monday in May has become a special time to honor all of the men and women — the patriots who have served and died — paying the ultimate price for our freedom and our country… “for us all.”

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I am struck by the diverse beauty of America. American soldiers come from all walks of life and all regions of the country, and a high percentage come from farms, ranches and rural life.

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As I drove past that billboard along a highway near Lubbock, Texas, I also thought about the mothers and the fathers, families and communities, who have raised, and then lost, men and women who have paid the ultimate price so that we may be free.

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This Memorial Day, as always, we solemnly remember with honor, with gratitude the supreme sacrifice of our heroes, that freedom and liberty may live and that we as Americans may have the rights and responsibilities to protect it and pass it on to future generations.

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