We should pause on this Memorial Day to honor servicemen and women

Guest Editorial By Clyde E. Easter Combat Veteran of WWII

May 26, 2014

We pause on this Memorial Day, May 26, 2014, to honor all servicemen and women who gave their lives for their country and to commemorate the courage and patriotism of those who served in the United States armed services. It is a day to reflect on the terrible cost of war in human suffering.

I hope and pray that out of our suffering today’s generation will reflect on the past and on the hard-earned lessons of my generation to help guide our leaders now and into the future.

Yet we know freedom is never free, but is always purchased at great cost, and it is the price we pay that gives everything its value. We must remember the past in order to face the future and to live in the present. I believe to be born free is a privilege but to die free is an awesome responsibility.

I as many other Veterans, am a survivor of war. We also paid a high price in suffering and hardships, the brutal experience of month after month in combat, the mental anguish, hunger, cold and pain. But we were the lucky ones. We will carry the scars and the memory of war all of our lives, but we have had the great privilege of living in a nation of freedom, a nation that I love very much.

We are thankful for the victories that have been granted to us, and for those people who have united with us to stamp out the evils of aggression, intolerance and greed, and we are grateful for the families and friends in this nation who have given their lives that we may be free. Let us, as a free nation, not be afraid of standing alone for the rights of men.

I often shed tears when I look at our flag because I know first hand that behind this inspiring symbol is blood and great sacrifice. May freedom be seen not as the right to do as we please, but as the opportunity to do what is right.

But why are we so willing to fight and, if need be, to die? The answer to that question is as simple and yet as complex as the soul of America itself. We fight because we believe, not that war is good, but that sometimes it is necessary. Our soldiers fight and die not for the glory of war, but for the prize of freedom.

Sacrifice is meaningless without remembrance. America’s collective consciousness demands that all citizens be aware of and recall on special occasions the death of their fellow countrymen during wartime. Far too often we take for granted the freedoms we all enjoy. Those freedoms were paid for with the lives of others, that’s why they all should be remembered on one special day.

As America’s 12 million war veterans disappear from society’s landscape, there are fewer and fewer standard bearers left to carry the torch of remembrance. Such traditions will live on only if there is a vibrant movement to which that torch can be passed.

My message today is, cherish our freedom, protect our freedom, don’t abuse this freedom. History has proven freedoms abused are often lost. May we all remember how bitterly our freedom was won.

Young people today, remember our past history, build on its foundations, have goals in yourlives, and work for those goals. You are living in a great time with many opportunities.

There are many new frontiers that haven’t been reached.

I challenge each of you today that we go forward from this Memorial Day, more dedicated than ever before to cherish and protect our freedom, and with God’s help, heal our nation of the problems it is facing today.

Today we say to our departed comrades, those who died in the defense of our country, the freedoms for which you sacrificed your lives still shine brightly on our nation’s flag, and you will continue to be honored and remembered by your country. You will always have a special place in the hearts and minds of each of us who struggled alongside you in the fields of battle. We shall treasure your memory forever.

Clyde E. Easter

Combat Veteran of WWII

Fancy Gap, Va.