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History with a few Memorial Day facts.

According to PBS Newshour, more than 1.1 million American soldiers have died since the Revolutionary War in 1775. The Civil War alone is accountable for the deaths of 620,000 military personnel.

According to the Deseret News, the tradition of placing flags or other items on the graves of American soldiers on Memorial Day dates back at least to the Civil War.  Following the battle of Gettysburg, women from Boalsburg, Pennsylvania are said to have placed flowers on the graves of the fallen soldiers.  And within a few years, women from Columbus, Mississippi are reported to have begun decorating the graves of both Union and Confederate soldiers.

Finally, I would note the “National Moment of Remembrance Act”, signed on Dec. 20, 2000, by President Bill Clinton, designating 3 p.m. on Monday as a moment set aside to “pause and consider the true meaning of this holiday.”

I will close with a quote from the American author and poet Richelle E. Goodrich that is perfect for this Memorial Day weekend:

“Some say freedom is a gift placed in our hands by our forefathers.
Some say freedom is a human right that none should be denied.
Some say freedom is a privilege that can and will be seized if taken for granted.
Some say freedom is the key that opens doors otherwise meant to imprison.
Some say freedom is power to do, to be, to say, and to accomplish what the oppressed cannot.
Some say freedom is a responsibility — a weight to be carried and shared by those willing to protect it.
Perhaps freedom is all these things.

But in my eyes, I see freedom as a treasure. It is a gem so rare and precious the fiercest battles rage over it. The blood of thousands is spilled for it — past, present, and future.  Where true and unblemished freedom exists, it shines with perfect clarity, drawing the greedy masses, both those who desire a portion of the spoils and those who would rob the possessor of the treasure, hoping to bury it away.

Without freedom, I am a slave in shackles on a ship lost at sea.

With freedom, I am a captain; I am a pirate; I am an admiral; I am a scout; I am the eagle souring overhead; I am the north star guiding a crew; I am the ship itself; I am whatever I choose to be.”

At some point this weekend, please take time to reflect on the brave men and women in uniform who have paid the ultimate price for the freedoms that we enjoy in this exceptional country.

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