Pause, reflect and even grill

Published 10:00 pm Saturday, May 23, 2009

It’s a day for grilling hamburgers and hot dogs, a day for heading to the beach, a day for spending some time outside taking care of yard work. It’s the first day of the summer season, if not the season of summer. But most important, tomorrow should be a day of remembering.

In another space on this page, a correspondent paints a compelling picture of what it’s like for men of his generation to remember their nation at war. Even though many of the actual images they recall may be different, the emotions that veterans feel when they think about their fallen comrades usually are similar, whether they fought in World War II or the Vietnam War, in Korea or in Iraq. It is a powerful bond that holds together these men who served their nation so selflessly.

We who benefit from the ultimate sacrifice made through the years by so many thousands of brave Americans owe them more than a carefree day in front of a grill, or at the beach. On Monday, take a few moments to offer a prayer for their families and for our great nation. Spend an hour or so at one of Suffolk’s Memorial Day observances — one at Cedar Hill Cemetery and another at the Albert G. Horton Jr. Memorial Veterans Cemetery. If you know a war widow (or widower), call and say “Thank you” for the sacrifice they also made when that spouse died overseas. Write a note of thanks to a veteran.

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But be mindful that America has never been enslaved to its past. Americans look ever into a brighter future, full of hope and enthusiasm for what tomorrow can bring this great republic. Custom requires that flags flown at half-staff today be raised to their full height at noon, reflecting the ideal that we should continue the work of building and defending our nation even as we pause to remember those who’ve fallen in the cause.

So pause today and be thankful and mindful of those whose sacrifices helped ensure America’s freedom and strength. And then move on about the business of making America great and enjoying the liberties that are among its bedrock principles. Both actions honor our fallen heroes.