In times of trouble, Americans find inspiration and willpower in the flag.
It happened Tuesday morning during the aftermath of the Oklahoma City tornado. Film clips showed a lone man who climbed a tree. With the devastation below him, he hung an American flag high in the air for all to see. Hearts were quickly filled with courage and hope. Storm victims were reminded that by standing together, they remained strong.
This is the same feeling of pride experienced by grandparents, fathers and sons as well as mothers and daughters who have served in the United States Armed Forces. In doing so, they answered a call to duty that often saw them leaving families as they traveled overseas. Sadly, their journies ended too often on battlefields that carried names such as Kandahar, Fallujah, the Mekong Delta or Omaha Beach.
Today we honor these fallen soldiers on Memorial Day. There will be parades, speeches and plenty of flag waving. We’ll be proud, inspired and unified.
But what happens next? How do we honor these heroes tomorrow?
We do so by respecting the freedoms that these soldiers defended. This means:
•Making sure we vote responsibly on the national, state and local levels. Take the time to learn about the issues and candidates. Debate your friends and family. Ask questions and listen to answers.
•Staying informed. Read newspapers, magazines and blogs. Watch television news reports and documentaries. Research issues on the Internet.
•Exercise your right to free speech and also respect your neighbor’s right. Speak respectfully, articulately and intelligently. Most of all, state your opinions, whether popular or not.
•Support American businesses and reach out to Americans in need.
•Understand this country’s history. Remember what our great leaders stood for. Never forget how America’s strength and resilience has allowed it to transcend the hardships and adversity this nation has faced.
•Enjoy and protect our natural resources.
We must participate in shaping the future of this great nation if we are truly to honor the supreme sacrifice of our fallen soldiers. They understood our republic deserves a home as beautiful as its ideals.
Let’s not only honor them today, but every day.