Supervisor Gary Ovitt
Posted: 05/29/2011 06:02:57 PM PDT

Memorial Day is a special day to honor those men and women who gave their lives in service to our country. We celebrate those brave Americans whose patriotism and love of country is echoed in our history – from the American Revolution to the current military conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Many paid the ultimate sacrifice.

As President Ronald Reagan said, “It is, in a way, an odd thing to honor those who died in defense of our country, in defense of us, in wars far away. The imagination plays a trick. We see these soldiers in our minds as old and wise. We see them as something like the Founding Fathers, grave and gray haired. But most of them were boys when they died, and they gave up two lives – the one they were living and the one they would have lived. When they died, they gave up their chance to be husbands and fathers and grandfathers. They gave up their chance to be revered old men. They gave up everything for our country, for us. All we can do is remember.”

And today, we realize that those who died more recently could also be wives and mothers and grandmothers.

Liberty and its synonym freedom have always been essential ideals of our country. President Gerry Ford said, “Our values, our principles, and our determination to succeed as a free and democratic people will give us a torch to light the way. And we will survive and become the stronger – not only because of a patriotism that stands for love of country, but a patriotism that stands for love of people.”

President Harry Truman said, “Events have brought our American democracy to new influence and new responsibilities. They will test our courage, our devotion to duty, and our concept of liberty.” President Reagan stated, “Freedom and dignity of the individual have been more available and assured here than in any place on Earth.”

Our nation is free today because of the courage and devotion shown by our servicemen and women – fallen and still living – and the sacrifices they and others have made.

We must not forget the current conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan and we pray for the safe and speedy return of our troops.

At the same time, we must be cognizant of the need for our support for the military not only through our prayers, but through our recognition, our thanks when we encounter them at airports and at home.

As families and friends gather today for barbecues and picnics, it’s important as parents and grandparents, that we take the time to remind our kids what this day really means, why we revere it, and what sacrifices have been made on our behalf. We must not forget the sacrifices made here at home by the families of our servicemen and women in support of their loved ones and who understand, better than anyone; the sacrifices that are made to keep our country free.

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