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Published May 26 2013

Editorial: Take time to honor war dead

As sure as rain in May, Americans will go through a small measure of self-examination today as they observe Memorial Day in countless ways. But as usual in a war-weary nation, most of us will have packed up and traveled to lakes, mountains or seashore before today’s ceremonies honoring the nation’s war dead even begin.

There is nothing new in that. The three-day weekend traditionally marks the beginning of the summer season. After a long winter, recreation in the spring sun is cherished.

So as Americans observe Memorial Day, that self-examination of personal motivation for the observance tends toward finding justification for skipping the speeches, parades and ceremonies at war veterans’ cemeteries. Surely we all honor our war dead, but only when it’s convenient.

Too harsh? Maybe so.

After all, after more than a decade of distant wars of questionable purpose, many Americans want nothing to do with foreign conflicts that seem of no or little threat to the homeland. Change in attitudes and policy from the White House to the Congress reflect the sentiments of most Americans. The appetite for sending more uniformed men and women to Iraq and Afghanistan after years of U.S. involvement seem to have come to no definitive conclusion is gone.

Nonetheless, the instruments of war policy, no matter how flawed the policy, are the armed forces. The men and women sent into harm’s way – many of them to make the ultimate sacrifice – earn the nation’s thanks and praise. They are sent to do a job, to accomplish a mission, and they do it. They do it for their country – to safeguard the freedom we all cherish.

Today, even as the nation tires of extended wars that seem to have no end, remembering and honoring those uniformed men and women lost in wars is the least all Americans can do. Even at the lakes, the mountains, the seashore, take time to remember. Take time to ponder the sacrifices that guarantee our way of life.

Forum editorials represent the opinion of Forum management and the newspaper’s Editorial Board.