EDITORIAL: Honoring those who died for us

Memorial Day Weekend is upon us.
   Three days off work. The unofficial start of summer. Backyard cookouts with family and friends. A time for fun and relaxation.
   But we should not forget the real reason for the holiday: To remember and honor those Americans, our countrymen and countrywomen, who have given their lives in wars for more than 200 years. They are still doing so in places such as Aghanistan and Iraq.
   They are doing it for us and our way of life. They are doing it to protect us from those who are our enemies. They are doing it for personal reasons as well. But most of all they are doing it for their country and for patriotism.
   Some people might scoff at that, but if they do they have never known a soldier or sailor or airman or Marine.
   The names of such men and women are lined up in long, even rows on plain white tombstones in cemeteries all over this country and abroad. We all know what they look like. Many of us have visited them. Others have seen photographs many times.
   The bodies buried beneath many of those stones are the real reason we have the day off on Monday. We all should pause at some point over this weekend to thank and remember them.
   On the stones are the names and ranks of the dead, their birth and death dates, the war in which they died and maybe a medal they received. Not much information to go on for those who were once living, breathing people with likes, hobbies, jobs, friends and families.
   The stones don’t list the survivors, the family members who will never see their husband or wife again. The mothers and fathers whose child was taken too soon. The sons and daughters who grew up never having known one of their parents.
   These are the people who share that ultimate sacrifice. And while the dead have been many, the loved ones left behind have been legion.
   Stop and think of them as well on Memorial Day. Think of them visiting gravesites over the decades on birthdays, anniversaries and other special days.
   Many of our local communities will be holding ceremonies and parades over the weekend to honor all those who have died fighting for our country. Consider taking the time to attend such an event to pay your respects.
   In Allentown, the Lions Club is hosting its annual Memorial Day parade, which will start at 10 a.m. rain or shine. A memorial service will be held following the parade on the Allentown Grammar School grounds.
   In Plumsted, a Memorial Day parade will begin at 1 p.m. on North Main Street at Bright Road. The parade will continue along Main Street and Jacobstown Road to Meadowbrook Lane.
   The American Legion, in conjunction with other organizations will host other services when the parade concludes.
   Millstone’s Memorial Day parade will begin at 10 a.m. at the Clarksburg Post Office rain or shine. Following the ceremony all are invited for a free barbecue at the Clarksburg Inn.
   There is a reason it is call Memorial Day Weekend. Please honor the memories of all of those men and women.