Editorial: Memorial Day calls for deep gratitude
In 1949, Pulitzer Prize-winning Associated Press reporter and columnist Hal Boyle, a World War II correspondent, wrote: "It is D-Day plus five years, soldier, on this sandy coast where the world hinged on what you did.
"Because you did well here your world at home is as good as it is and if it isn't any better, why they'll have to blame someone else. There are some things you can do with a gun and there are other things you can't.
"What's it like here now, soldier, five years after you landed and put the first torch to Adolf Hitler's Western Wall?
"Well, the best answer might come from Pvt. Anthony R. Calif, or his neighbor, Pfc. Marvin C. Garness, or his neighbor, Lt. George W. Phillips, who has become a buddy of Staff Sgt. Miles S. Lewis.
"They have all settled here together, and they are all quiet men.
"But, they wouldn't be interested so much in telling you what it's like now.
"They'd rather ask you: 'What's it like now at home? And my folks - are they well and happy?'
"For they came here to stay, silent citizens of a silent American city on foreign soil. They rest with 9,523 other soldiers in the U.S. military cemetery atop a high green hill overlooking Omaha Beach."
Today, we observe Memorial Day, and, sadly, scores more of our servicemen and women have died in battle since Boyle covered the North African and European war theaters in World War II.
Memorial Day, once known as Decoration Day, began as an event to honor soldiers who had died in the American Civil War. After World War I, the day of tribute was extended to include all men and women who died in any war or military action.
Our wars have not ceased. Each year we add more names to the rolls of military dead.
Because of this, we must, as Americans, recognize that Memorial Day is more than hamburgers, hot dogs and family picnics.
It is a day to pause - even for a moment - and let Pvt. Calif, Pfc. Garness, Lt. Phillips and Staff Sgt. Lewis know what it's like at home.
America has its trials and tribulations, to be sure, we would say.
But, because of you and the thousands upon thousands who rest with you in American military cemeteries at home and abroad, we are a free people.
We hold you all in our hearts with gratitude.