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Making Memorial Day ceremonies count

Every year, Americans look forward to the start of the summertime season. When they do so, we hope, they also have their sights set on commemorating Memorial Day. Often overshadowed by the promise of sunny days at the beach and barbecues in the back yard, Memorial Day is an important holiday.

On Memorial Day, we have the opportunity to express our gratitude to those veterans who made the ultimate sacrifice so we could remain free. Whether they enlisted on their own or were drafted, soldiers from across the pages of history have served this country selflessly. Never is that more apparent then on Memorial Day, when we remember those who never made it back home.

Our towns and villages typically hold Memorial Day ceremonies in honor of their local soldiers, now gone. We thank communities for doing so. We only wish more people attended.

Nowadays, when there’s so much going on in world, people might forget to honor those who died in service to our nation. They might forget that there are still conflicts brewing across the globe, conflicts requiring the might of the U.S. military. That we have members of the Armed Forces ready to defend and protect both our country and others is extraordinary. That’s why it’s important to also honor and thank the men and women of the military on Veterans Day.

But Memorial Day is different — it’s a time to think of those who gave their lifeblood so that we could live free. It’s a time to remember those who are no longer around to share war stories of their time on the front. It’s a time to express our unending gratitude to the friends and families who had to bury their dead. It is, simply, a time to be thankful that we live in a nation as democratic as America — and it’s a time to think of the devastation of war in the hopes that one day those who fight will simply protect, that those who have died might instead have continued to serve.