It is understandable that Memorial Day has morphed into a day of picnics, beer, hot dogs, swimming hole fun, baseball games and family get-togthers.  It is understandable that people want to celebrate the unofficial beginning of the summer, especially after this supremely difficult year we have all gone through with the pandemic..

But it is also important that we remember that this is the special day we pay solemn tribute to the men and women who made the ultimate sacrifice so that we may enjoy the freedoms that we hold so dearly.

I usually spend part of any Memorial Day in a cemetery.  Maybe it is visiting the grave of my parents, maybe it is visiting a cemetery in a village I have never been to before, or maybe you can find me wandering the rows of stones and memorials at Arlington Cemetery in Washington, but I am almost always in a cemetery for at least a few moments on this day.

The cemetery is where it all becomes quite real on Memorial Day.  To see the veterans markers on the tombstones of so many who died in battle is a sobering experience.  We thank those who survived the wars for their service.  We can never repay the debt we owe to those who never came home.

All of the communities in our listening area have memorials to those who died in war.  Some of these memorials are nothing more than a small plaque with a few names on it,  or maybe a simple engraved stone.  Other tributes include a statue, a flag and maybe some patriotic adornments.  No matter how big or small it is, however, it is right to stop for a moment at these memorials, and at the local cemeteries in Otsego, Delaware, and Chenango counties and reflect on the souls who are no longer with us but who died so that we might live free.

And when you leave that cemetery this Memorial Day, I recommend you whisper, to no one in particular, "thank you."

It is the right thing to do.

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