Memorial DayHonor those who have paid the ultimate price

Published 11:00 pm Saturday, May 26, 2012

From its founding, the United States of America has sent its men and women into battle in the defense of freedom. More than 1.3 million Americans never came home to see the results of their struggles.

Today, we honor all of them and their sacrifices.

Many millions have served in operations domestic and foreign. In Vicksburg, more than 20,000 were killed during the Siege. We were divided then, and most Confederates and Union troops do not share the same burial grounds in Vicksburg. They were all Americans, though, whatever the motivations behind the war.

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We honor all those who fell in battle once a year — on Memorial Day — the last Monday of each May. It’s a time for reflection. It’s a time to remember. It’s a time to attempt to digest the costs put forth by our brothers and sisters, fathers and grandfathers, to keep America together.

Memorial Day activities in Vicksburg began Friday and continue:

• This morning from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m., volunteers and park rangers dressed in period clothing from the Revolutionary War through Vietnam will have displays near the park visitors center. Programs will be presented on the life of a soldier through the ages.

• The U.S. Air Force Reserve Brass Quintet will perform today from 2 until 4 p.m. at the USS Cairo at the Vicksburg National Military Park.

• A parade will roll along Washington Street from Belmont to Jackson streets at 10 a.m. Monday. Line-up is at 9.

• Command Sgt. Maj. Jeff Riggs will deliver the keynote speech at an 11 a.m. Memorial Service at Vicksburg Auditorium.

• At 12:30 p.m., a motorcade will travel to the Vicksburg National Cemetery for a wreath-laying.

• At 3 p.m. Monday, we urge everyone to observe a moment of silence for one minute to reflect on the glory of those who have shed blood so that we have the privilege to honor their sacrifices.

Also, a memorial at the Outlets at Vicksburg will remain open through Tuesday in suite 109.

America, despite its political divisions, is still the shining beacon of light that all nations strive to be. The least we can do is honor those who died to keep that light aglow.

Do not take for granted the sacrifices put forth over the nearly 238 years since brave men attached their names in ink to the Declaration of Independence — an almost certain death sentence. The blood spilled from that day forth must be a stoic reminder of what was done so that we, the people, are able to enjoy the spoils of being a free American.

God Bless America.