A TIME TO HONOR THE COST OF FREEDOM
May is a month of remembrance for most Americans - a time to pay private and public homage
to our military heroes who made the ultimate sacrifice defending freedom on battlefields near and far. America's fallen heroes
must never be forgotten. Their unselfish sacrifice in wars against enemies of freedom both ancient and fresh deserve recognition,
reverence and gratitude. While every American should tend and harbor the fragile flame of freedom by remembering those who
died to keep it alive, veterans are honor-bound to do so. It's an unspoken oath sealed with blood.
Gen. John A. Logan, commander in chief of the Grand Army of the Republic, a post-Civil War
veterans organization, understood the need for veterans to hold closely the sacrifices of their comrades. In his 1868 General
Orders No. 11, Logan asked what better duty could veterans perform than to cherish "tenderly the memory of our heroic dead,
who made their breasts the barricade between our country and its foes?" Veterans have an obligation to protect that legacy.
Above all, they must be forever vigilant in keeping alive the memory of those who paid the ultimate sacrifice.
"If other eyes grow dull, other heads slack, and other hearts cold in the solemn trust, ours
shall keep it well as long as the light and warmth of life remain to us, " Logan wrote in proclaiming May 30, 1868, a day
for the purpose of strewing flowers or otherwise decorating the graves of veterans. It was Logan's desire that the tradition
"be kept up from year to year, while a survivor of the war remains to honor the memory of his departed comrades." Logan's
charge to veterans of the GAR is as relevant today as it was 137 years ago. More than 1,500 of our nation's military heroes
have paid the ultimate sacrifice in Afghanistan and Iraq in the fight to crush tyranny and in its ashes plant the seeds of
freedom. They join a legion of young men and women who died before them to protect the tenets of liberty, democracy and the
American way of life.
Men and women throughout the ages bravely have stepped forward to answer freedom's call.
Many died never having experienced life's precious gifts of love and marriage, the sight and touch of a firstborn son or daughter.
Their lives were cut short before giving a daughter's hand in matrimony or seeing the sparkle in a grandchild's eye. They
left behind grieving widows and orphans, while sacrificing dreams of fruitful careers and comfortable retirement so that we
who survive might forever live free of tyranny's bond. They gave their lives as a gift of love and patriotism so that their
family, sweethearts, friends, neighbors and fellow Americans might forever breathe the sweet air of freedom.
We who inherit freedom's fruits through the sacrifices of fellow patriots - from American
colonists who fought at the birth of our nation to troops felled battling the jackboot of oppression and terrorism in Iraq
and Afghanistan - owe these brave warriors honor, respect and gratitude. Take time this Memorial Day and every Memorial Day
for years to come, to remember them all!
Thomas P. Cadmus