As the unofficial beginning of summer, let us never lose focus of what Memorial Day means.

As the unofficial beginning of summer, let us never lose focus of what Memorial Day means. It is not about beaches, picnics or auto races. It is a day to remember. It is a day for us to remember the promise President Lincoln made to “care for him who shall have borne the battle, and for his widow and his orphan.”

Scripture tells us that there is no greater love than a man laying down his life for his friends. The men and women that we honor and remember have proven that they are not just friends to us as Americans — but they are friends to men and women in countries around the world.

We owe it to the heroes that died and the loved ones left behind to make sure that their sacrifices are remembered and that their service to this nation will always be honored.

Remembering our fallen once a year is not enough. Americans must remember that freedom isn’t free. In fact, it’s only possible because our fallen heroes have paid its high price. A price paid, which enables us to have ceremonies and observances like this in towns across this great country.

We should insist that America remain the land of the free. A land where patriotism trumps politics, where the American Flag is displayed proudly and frequently and where military veterans are society’s true celebrities.

We must NEVER forget the families of our fallen. Long after the battlefield guns have been silenced and the bombs stop exploding, the children of our fallen warriors will still be missing a parent. Spouses will be without their life partners. Parents will continue to grieve for their heroic sons and daughters that died way too early.

Let us remember that tyrannical regimes have been toppled and genocides stopped because Americans sacrificed life and limb. Let us remember that terrorist plots were foiled and killers brought to justice because Americans were willing to pay a high price. Let us remember that without a U.S. military, the world would be a far more oppressive and darker place. Let us remember that freedom never had a greater friend than the American soldier, sailor, airman, Marine and Coast Guardsman.

The empty seat at the dinner table, the smaller gathering on Thanksgiving, and the voice of a loved one heard only as a distant memory in one’s mind are constant remainders tat they are gone.

Whether one fought in World War I, World War II, Korea, the jungles of Vietnam, the Middle East or elsewhere, the stories of American heroism and sacrifice continue to resonate.

The Preamble to the Constitution of The American Legion calls on us to preserve the memories and incidents of our associations in the Great Wars...”

While there is nothing unpatriotic about an auto race, a trip to the beach or a barbecue, we need to reflect on the true meaning of Memorial Day.

We owe them no less.

—Tom Givan, Chaplain,

Emmette J Sheilds Post 55 of the American Legion