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Our duty is simple: To Remember

A lot of people don't realize that Memorial Day is a day set aside to honor this country's bravest soldiers.

We've lost the meaning in this country to a great extent.

Most companies and governments still give a holiday for Memorial Day, but rarely, if ever, do the vast majority of us realize what the day is all about.

Memorial Day is about remembering the fallen fighters of this nation and about honoring their sacrifices.

From the Civil War on, there have been boys - and now girls - who won't be coming home for the war. Monday's holiday is for them. They paid the ultimate price for our nation and we owe it to them to remember.

All across the country, there were small gatherings hosted by American Legion posts, Veterans of Foreign Wars posts, churches, and other groups.

They weren't unlike the ceremonies offered in Troy's Bicentennial Park.

World War II vets, Korean Conflict vets, Vietnam vets, Gulf War vets, members of high school ROTC units, active military, Reservists and National Guardsmen joined with their families and members of the community to pause briefly to remember those who didn't make it back.

Memorial Day services are all different, but they're all the same, too.

I often find myself in awe of the men and women of the American military.

The recent wars in Afghanistan and Iraq are just another example of the courage it takes these individuals. It takes courage and a strong sense of duty to walk into some mountain cave in search of the Taliban fighters - the same courage it took for the warriors in Vietnam to slither into the underground tunnels of the Viet Cong.

You're no doubt familiar with recent recruiting themes - "Be All You Can Be," "An Army of One," "Aim High," "The Navy's Not Just a

Job, It's an Adventure."

These slogans work, along with military recruiters who prowl the halls of every high school

in the country. We haven't seen the draft since Vietnam, and although I can't back it up, I suspect it's because of the emphasis the military has put on "hiring" citizen soldiers.

It's a different atmosphere for enlistees now than it was in 1941, but does that in anyway diminish what the service our soldiers render this nation?

It doesn't in my book. Are the sands of the Iraqi desert any less dangerous than were the sands of Iwo Jima and Guadalcanal?

Not hardly.

Does the enemy still shoot to kill? Without doubt.

The veterans - both living and deceased - did their patriotic duty. Many of them didn't seek it out. They were teachers and farmers and business people who answered the call when the country was in need.

They stepped up, dug in and held off the attacks on freedom, whether it was our own freedom or the freedom of others less fortunate than ourselves. They did their duty.

Memorial Day gives us a chance every year to do our patriotic duty in some small way.

And that duty is simple: To remember.

Clif Lusk is managing editor of The Messeneger, and can be reached via e-mail at clif.lusk@ troymessenger. com.