Summary: Respecting the sacrifice of those who bought our freedom with their lives.

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“In New York harbor stands a lady,

With a torch raised to the sky.

And all who see her, know she stands for

Liberty for you and I.

I’m so proud to be called an American

To be named with the brave and the free.

I will honor our flag and our trust in God,

And the Statue of Liberty.”

Memorial - “Anything meant to help people remember some person or event such as a monument, a holiday etc.

Memorial Day - A legal holiday in the U.S. in memory of the dead servicemen and women of all wars.

Respect - To feel or show honor or esteem for; to consider or treat with deference or dutiful regard.”


Memorial Day weekend - 2004 is shaping up to be one of the more special Memorial Day’s our country has celebrated in some time. With the 60th anniversary of the D-Day Invasion being somewhat woven into the activities of the World War II Memorial dedication there is much to see and do. Personally I have watched in awe of the men and women whose stories of duty during WW II have been chronicled on some of the news stations. (I try real hard not to watch the interviews with the Vietnam vets because they always have to show those “then” and “now” pictures and I hate to be reminded that I am one of them and likewise, have a “now” face and physique.)

If you were on The Mall in Washington D.C. yesterday you would have seen it filled to capacity with aging WW II vets. Those who tally such grim statistics tell us that already two thirds of them have passed on and over one thousand join their ranks each day. They have every right to be proud of their service to our country and the memorial raised in their honor. Each star in the memorial represents one hundred war dead, we are told - and the stars stretch on forever.

Four hundred and seven thousand men and women……… From the European theatre to the Pacific. On a small island called Saipan, 3,500 dead - Philippines - Okinawa (12,500 dead) - Iwo Jima (4 ½ miles long, by 2 ½ miles wide - 19,000 WIA and 7,000 KIA)

I presided at a wedding ceremony at the Michigan State Alumni Chapel yesterday. As I was waiting for the wedding party to arrive, for the first time I noticed that the chapel was dedicated to those who lost their lives in war. Silently I stood before the names etched in granite and blessed them and their families for their ultimate sacrifice.

Fifty eight thousand names are carved in stone on the Vietnam veterans memorial. One of the most visited sites in the D.C. area, and yet I wonder how many without friends or family members included on The Wall are able to see through the beauty of this awe inspiring monument and look into the life of one person or their grieving family who is listed there.

You see sometimes I get to thinking that it’s easy to lump men and women into a compilation of numbers and forget that each of them died, one at a time, for a cause beyond their ken. Individual men and women who wanted to live as badly as you and I. Men and women who wanted to raise families. Men and Women with dreams and hopes for the future, just as you and I have. How do we keep them from becoming just statistics or numbers. How do we keep ever before us the fact they were someone’s Father or Uncle or Aunt or Sister or Friend?

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