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A day to pay tribute

COLUMBUS AIR FORCE BASE, Miss. -- As they have done since 1868 when the tradition began, many citizens of this great land of ours will go solemnly and dutifully on Memorial Day to nearby cemeteries to participate in events, some simple and some elaborate, that have been planned by local organizations in observance of this special day. Parades, little and big, will lead the way, and Americans flags, waving in the spring breeze, will line the parade routes. Bands from local high schools and nearby colleges will provide appropriate and stirring music for these observances, and distinguished dignitaries, both local and out-of-town, will give stirring orations that befit the day.
Looking across those well-kept cemeteries, those present will see, maybe through misty eyes, small flags, carefully and reverently placed, that distinctly mark certain graves. These little flags, also waving in the spring breeze, have a larger purpose. They are the silent but powerful reminders of the purpose of Memorial Day. It is a day designated for citizens of this land to remember and pay tribute to those brave men and women who, when duty called, left the security of home, the embrace of family, and the friendship of neighbors to serve their country. Some, in the prime of life, made the supreme sacrifice, and others, under situations of extreme danger, suffered much and carried scars with them for the remainder of their lives. All gave the full measure of devotion to their country.
The sacrificial service of those selfless men and women in perilous times of international turmoil had profound effect that cannot and, we hope, will not be forgotten. Our nation was defended, our citizens were protected. The independence we cherish was secured, and the precious freedoms--sometimes taken for granted--that we enjoy were preserved. Future generations will be the beneficiaries of their service, and the rest of the people of the world will continue to look to this nation for hope and inspiration.
Indeed, Memorial Day is a day to remember the sacrificial service of others and pay tribute to those who made the sacrifice.