Summary: A Memorial Day tribute to the soldiers who made the ultimate sacrifice during all the wars fought by Americans for freedom and justice.

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INTRODUCTION. In 1867 some deeply caring women of Columbus, Mississippi, decorated not only the graves of their own dead who had given their lives in the great Civil War which had just ended, but also the graves of the Northern soldiers who were buried there.

This extremely noble act inspired others do to the same, and the annual custom eventually became our nation-wide Memorial Day. It has become a beautiful day of tribute, celebrated with music, parades, speeches, and the decorating of the graves of those who have died in the wars of our nation. It has become an effective way of helping us remember those who have made it possible for us to be where we are and have what we have today -- those who have paid the supreme sacrifice.

Where I live the local TV station presents daily honors to our fallen heroes of the war in Iraq. Our Newspaper the San Antonio Express-News has a daily section giving out the names of those who have died in this war. I see decals shaped like ribbons on the rear of almost every vehicle honoring our soldiers both living and dead. I believe that it is only natural that we say thank you to the men and women who have placed their very lives in harms way in order that we would continue to be a free nation.

I. THE NATURAL EXPERIENCE OF MAN. Humanity can almost be said to be divided into classes: those who live the full, rich life, and those who die to make the full life possible for others. It remains to this very day one of our most tragic facts of reality that some of us must be sacrificed for the rest of us.

It was true with WWI, it was true with WWII, it was true with the Korean War, it was true with the Viet-Nam War, and it was true with the struggle in America during the Civil Rights Era of the 50’s and 60’s. People died for people, Dr. Martin Luther King, jr. took an assassins bullet (I believe that this was an organized assassination) he died on behalf of the oppressed. I remember him saying,"If a man doesn’t have anything he is willing to die for, then he isn’t fit to live" Memorial Day reminds us this historical principle that some of us must be sacrificed for the rest of us. None of us would doubt for a moment that American is the great nation that it is because so many gave their lives to make it possible.

Yes! If blood had not been shed in all the previous wars, those protestors in the streets of America may not of have the right to protest the recent war in Iraq, and Viet-Nam before that. I often wondered what would of happened to America had Hitler gotten his way and ruled the world from his Nazi Germany? I guarantee there would not be the freedom of protest, at least not as it is today. But because blood was shed, we have the freedoms we have today.

American warriors from every branch have given their lives for our land, our liberty, and our health. God bless those pioneers who have sacrificed the security of homeland to crave an empire out of the vast wilderness of America. May we never forget that first group of patriots, who poorly clothed and half-starved, untrained and badly equipped, faced death in order to secure for us a nation. The scientist and inventors who braved the odds of nature and forged a giant industrial revolution had their share of martyrs and heroes who gave themselves that others may have a better life.

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