Guest op-ed: Remembering those who served on Memorial Day


Why do we march on Memorial Day? For more than 200 years, scores of Americans have answered the call to duty.

The meaning of Memorial Day can get lost while we all deal with our hectic lifestyle. It goes without saying there is a high cost associated with our way of life. We all know freedom does not come free and many of those brave men and women who have answered that call have made the ultimate sacrifice.

The America we know today would not be the same were it not for the men and women we honor on Memorial Day. They truly deserve to be remembered.

Each of those we remember today came to a defining moment in their life – to put on our country’s uniform and recite a solemn oath of allegiance to our nation and its bedrock principles. History has been shaped and molded by the tens of millions of American veterans who put their lives on hold to wear the uniform.

Hundreds of thousands of brave men and women have given their lives for our freedom throughout our history. We share a heavy responsibility as the beneficiaries of the price our veterans have paid.

The responsibility to remember and honor those who gave everything so that we may be free: That’s why villages, towns and cities across the country turn out to march on this most solemn of days.

Today’s men and women who serve, all volunteers, are no less committed to protecting our nation than those who preceded them. Let us not forget those who are in harm’s way, serving in Afghanistan and around the world.

Our latest generation of American veterans is returning home after having served on the front lines. Most come home to joyous reunions with loved ones and revel in the collective sigh of relief that marks a safe return.

Others come home with the visible and invisible wounds that are the tragic hallmarks of armed conflict. While still others return in solemn, eternal repose beneath an American flag.

Unfortunately, history has shown that we rely on America’s sons and daughters to defend our liberty. They rely on us to honor them, support them, believe in them and hold them in our thoughts and prayers. Our land has been truly blessed with veterans who have given their lives to ensure the strength and endurance of our free nation.

We owe them much, but most of all we owe them a place in our hearts. Don’t ever forget freedom’s cost and those who pay that price. We can start to pay that debt by remembering what they did and what they stood for more than once a year, not only on Memorial Day.

The members of the United Military Veterans of Kings County will kick off the parade at 11 a.m. on May 27 at 87th Street and Third Avenue to honor the bravery and sacrifice of so many Americans who came before us to secure the liberty we enjoy.

With this parade we honor those who gave their lives for that blessing. I thank the Brooklyn community for supporting the parade and for remembering those who paid the ultimate price for our freedom.


Raymond Aalbue is chairperson of the Kings County Memorial Day Parade.

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