On Monday, May 27th, Americans across the country will remember the brave men and women who gave their lives for our country. Whether you plan to observe the holiday with a parade, a service, or a moment of silence, we will each in our own way remember and honor our nation’s greatest, those who have sacrificed themselves for our freedom. 

For me, Memorial Day is more than just the ceremonial first day of the summer season, more than just an opportunity to enjoy the annual running of the Indianapolis 500 race “Back Home Again in Indiana” – Memorial Day is a time to honor all of the men and women who have served in the United States Armed Forces and, in many instances, given their lives for their country and everything it stands for.

I think of my father, who parachuted out of a Douglas C-47 “Skytrain” 42 times in the Second World War, including three jumps with enemy bullets whizzing by him, fought in five pitched battles in New Guinea and the Philippines, and was honored with a Bronze Star Medal for heroic service in the recapture of Corregidor.  I think of my wife’s grandfather, who served as a bombardier aboard a Boeing B-17 “Flying Fortress” bomber and flew 23 unescorted missions over Europe, manning the machine gun in the glass nose front turret of the airplane, watching the anti-aircraft flak coming at him constantly, and shooting down two Focke-Wulf FW-190 fighters. Of 300 bombardiers in his class, he was one of five to survive the war. I also remember my great‑grandfather, two great-great-grandfathers and a second-great granduncle, all of whom fought in the American Civil War, the cataclysm that sparked the first grave decorating observances and led to our modern Memorial Day holiday.  And I think about my youngest daughter, who enlisted this year and is now serving in the United States Army.  I think of all these brave people and many others, including those who did not have the good fortune to return to their homes alive, I pray for their souls, and I give thanks for their courage, their dedication and the sacrifices they made for their families, their loved ones, their countrymen and women, and generations unborn – for you and for me.

I hope you will enjoy the Memorial Day holiday, but I also invite you to join me in remembering the real reason for this three-day weekend.  If you have an American flag, break it out and unfurl it.  If you have an opportunity to attend a Memorial Day ceremony at a local cemetery, do so.  And take at least a few moments to express thanks for the soldiers, sailors, marines and aviators, living and dead, who sacrificed so much that you can live proud and free and enjoy the many blessings of life in the greatest country on earth.  God bless the United States of America.  God bless us all on Memorial Day.