Coming this next Monday we celebrate Memorial Day. It’s the last Monday of May each year since the end of the Civil War. This remembrance has evolved from just a simple decoration day to now being a celebration in honor and remembrance of those that have lost their lives in the defense of our country. They have given the ultimate sacrifice. The military families have also sacrificed the unbearable and immeasurable loss of a son, daughter, brother, sister, father, mother, husband or wife. It isn’t simply a day off work to go to the lake or have a cookout.

I know that I get goosebumps when I see the rows and rows of white headstones with the American flag in front at the National Cemeteries. I can’t count that high. The numbers are mind boggling. When I see the flag and hear the national anthem my heart swells with pride. And if you want to really feel the movement of the earth watch a band go by or an orchestra playing patriotic music.

I especially remember the feelings of pride I had when I graduated from Army basic training. We were all assembled in perfect order, marching in cadence while passing the viewing stand. My spine rippled and my steps became more in unison with each step. I also had that same feeling when I saw my son leaving on the bus to go to basic training.

Fortunately neither one of us was asked to make the ultimate sacrifice. However, knowing that there were many that did makes me so proud. What a tremendous sacrifice. From the time of the Civil War with young men fighting for what they thought was right, to the world wars, WWI and WWII, fighting for and defending freedom, to Korea and Vietnam fighting to keep Communism from being the oppressive force, we have had citizens say I’ll go. We then went on to fight in the Middle East in multiple campaigns following 9/11. We need to remember those that were in special ops and not necessarily part of huge campaigns.

We also need to honor those that gave their lives by being responsible with our way of living. We should be more involved in our government. We have the right to vote, so we should use it. We should educate ourselves about the issues and the candidates. We don’t have to be loud about our politics, just cast a vote. Even the special elections are important.

Freedom doesn’t come automatically. We hold it dear, but do we hold it’s truths to be self evident? Do we really honor all of those freedoms. I love this country. Let’s make sure those that did sacrifice the ultimate measure didn’t do so in vain. Let’s make their service count.

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