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Memorial Day, high price of freedom

Published 11:17 am Thursday, May 15, 2014

The United States began as a dream. In defiance of tyranny, early Americans set out to create a nation like no other. The people, not aristocracy, would be the stewards of the new nation. Freedom from the overreaching arms of the British monarchy was the ultimate goal.
Against insurmountable odds, the young army defeated the mighty British. Since then, each time a threat to that freedom is posed, gallant Americans have risen to beat back the arm of cruelty and oppression. Many millions have served in operations domestic and foreign. An estimated 1.3 million of those paid the ultimate sacrifice — their lives. In Vicksburg, more than 20,000 were killed during the Siege. We were divided then and Confederates and Union troops do not share the same burial grounds at the Vicksburg National Military Park. They were all Americans, though, whatever the motivations behind the war.
Once a year, on Memorial Day, we honor all of those who fell in battle. The last Monday of each May is a time for reflection. It is a time to remember. It is a time to attempt to digest the costs put forth by our brothers and sisters, fathers and grandfathers, to keep America together.
Memorial Day does not have the glitz and glitter of more commercialized holidays. For many, the day will pass as the final day of a three-day weekend and the start of summer. The importance of the day should not be forgotten, rather celebrated.
Memorial Day activities in Vicksburg will be plenty. A parade will roll down Washington Street at 10 that Monday morning. A memorial service is scheduled for 11 a.m. and a wreath laying is scheduled for 12:30 p.m. at the military park.
Nationally, at 3 p.m. local time, Americans are asked to observe a moment of silence and reflection. The goal is to continue to bring awareness to Memorial Day.
The United States is the beacon. Many scrap and claw for a chance of experiencing what those who live here have every day — freedom. That freedom has come at a dramatic cost.
Honor those sacrifices. Fly the American flag. Reflect on the 1.3 million people — about equal to the population of Dallas — who took up arms in defense of this country, and never returned home to enjoy its spoils.