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From the days of the Revolutionary War to the recent conflicts in Afghanistan, Syria and Iraq, thousands of men and women, young and old, have given their lives to guarantee the freedom and rights set forth for us in the Declaration of Independence and the U.S. Constitution.

Memorial Day was created to honor them. It was originally called Decoration Day, a day to adorn the graves of those who had died in the Civil War. Today, many Americans visit the graves of loved ones and stop at our war memorials to pay homage and place flags near the sacred remains of those who are now gone. Parades and ceremonies are held to celebrate their sacrifice and heroism. They will never be forgotten.  We owe them a debt of gratitude that can never be repaid.

Long before the Declaration was penned, Patrick Henry uttered the clarion cry of freedom when he said, “Give me liberty, or give me death!” Our Founding Fathers gave substance to that sentiment when they pledged their lives, fortunes and sacred honor. Many have followed in their footsteps.

Nearly 40 years after independence, Francis Scott Key showed that the fire of freedom still burned bright in the hearts of Americans. After the British bombarded Fort McHenry through the night, Old Glory emerged through the smoke of battle to shine in the morning sun. Mr. Key was inspired to write the Star-Spangled Banner, which still inspires Americans who love “the land of the free and the home of the brave.”

In a sense, we face a bombardment today, but not of our Flag. The attack is now directed at our Constitution. Because of the coronavirus pandemic, many mayors and governors have taken it upon themselves to “suspend” our God-given rights. If fallen veterans could cry out from the grave, they would remind us there is something so precious that they were willing to give their lives. That priceless treasure is freedom. That is what they died to preserve. No one puts on an American military uniform to make some elected official more powerful. We put on that uniform to ensure that the American people will remain free.

We must remember why so many made the ultimate sacrifice. If we forget that, we put the lie to Abraham Lincoln’s immortal words.

“It is rather for us to be here dedicated to the great task remaining before us — that from these honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which they gave the last full measure of devotion — that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain….”

It’s up to us — “we the people” — to assure that they did not die in vain; that we who have served and are alive to enjoy the freedom our comrades in arms fought, bled and died for, did not serve in vain; that those standing as sentinels of liberty for us today do not stand guard in vain.

I encourage you to use this Memorial Day as an opportunity to join those who served in the military by taking the “Citizens Oath to the Constitution” at www.standamerica.us.

Let us follow their example and here resolve that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom — and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.”

May God bless you and your family, and may He continue to bless our beloved country — the United States of America.

Have a wonderful and meaningful Memorial Day.