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Thank you for your service for our freedom

May 30, 2011
Weirton Daily Times

Thank you to all who have served, are serving and will serve for allowing this great country to be what it is.

Thank you for my freedom.

Thank you for our freedom.

You are making the sacrifice I didn't want to make - to serve our country.

It never interested me.

So, I thank all for being braver than I.

We can all lament about what it is becoming, or what we all think might be around the corner, but we are privileged to be citizens of the United States of America.

There is no greater country.

Our country has declined over the years because of adults - those who won't stand up to their children, but will rail a teacher/coach/boss/administrator because they actually make that same child follow rules.

The men and women of the armed forces are performing the greatest acts of selflessness there are in this world.

They are not there to look in the camera and say 'Hi mom.'

They are not there to zone out, much like your child does in English class and then you complain to everyone else because your child is getting a D.

There is no whining about playing time in the armed forces.

For that, I am grateful.

I am guessing not too many parents are calling up the Pentagon and asking the highest ranking official, "is there a reason my child is sitting the bench?"

When was the last time a parent walked up to a general and asked, "why isn't my son or daughter on the front line more often?"

Today was originally known as Decoration Day.

Today commemorates United States men and women who died during military duty.

General John A. Logan first issued a proclamation on May 5, 1868 that Decoration Day be observed in May each year. It was initially observed on May 30, 1868.

Memorial Day became the official name by law in 1967.

On June 28, 1968, Congress passed the Uniform Holidays Bill, which moved three holidays from their traditional dates (Washington's Birthday, Veterans Day and Memorial Day) to a specific Monday in order to create a three-day weekend which was seen as more convenient. It also recognized Columbus Day as a federal holiday.

That law took effect in 1971.

Veterans Day was eventually moved back to its original date.

Washington's Birthday is now known as Presidents' Day.

Veterans groups are seeking change of Memorial Day back to its original date of May 30 to bring back the true meaning of the day.

Memorial Day is now commonly seen as the unofficial beginning to summer.

Many high school seniors have graduated and today is the annual date swimming pools officially open.

In the fall of 1864, President Lincoln was informed that a Boston widow, Lydia Bixby, had lost five sons in the Civil War. President Lincoln wrote to her:

Executive Mansion

Washington, Nov. 21, 1864

To Mrs. Bixby, Boston, Mass.

Dear Madam,

I have been shown in the files of the War Department a statement of the Adjutant General of Massachusetts, that you are the mother of five sons who have died gloriously on the field of battle.

I feel how weak and fruitless must be any words of mine which should attempt to beguile you from the grief of a loss so overwhelming. But I cannot refrain from tendering to you the consolation that may be found in the thanks of the Republic they died to save.

I pray that our Heavenly Father may assuage the anguish of your bereavement, and leave you only the cherished memory of the loved and lost, and the solemn pride that must be yours, to have laid so costly a sacrifice upon the altar of Freedom.

Yours very sincerely and respectfully

A. Lincoln

Selfless service is paramount in this nation.

It's what makes this nation grow.

It's what we all should do every day of our lives.

We should, as the saying goes, pay it forward.

We should hold the door as a family of 16 goes through and gets ahead of you in the all-you-can-eat buffet.

We should actually walk the shoppong cart back to where it belongs instead of just wherever because you are lazy.

We should mow our beighbor's lawn because we have the mower out and they won't get back from vacation until the next day.

When we stand to hear the National Anthem before any sporting event, we should stand at attention and thank God for everyone else who is serving our country.

Stand there, hats off, hand over your hearts and be quiet.

When you see kids who can't shut up during this song, please rebuke them and, if their parents don't say a word to the kids and you have to, rebuke the parents, also.

If you see adults who can't shut up, rebuke them, if their children don't do it first.

I understand how we can become immune to the song and its history.

I understand we hear it all the time.

But, maybe there is a reason we hear it all the time.

Maybe we need to hear it all the time.

But, because of the blood of millions of men and women who have fought and died for this great country and our privilege to hear this song, it is our duty to make sure we remember why and pass along the information.

A year ago at a high school sporting event I witnessed some athletes being disrespectful during the National Anthem.

Once it was over, I made a beeline to their coach and told him that I wasn't pleased how they acted and how they represented their school.

The coach told me he would take care of it and he did.

He reminded me about it when I saw him recently. He thanked me for coming to him about his athletes.

Stand up.

Shut up.

Be respectful.

(Mathison, a Weirton resident, is the sports editor of the Herald-Star and The Weirton Daily Times and can be contacted at

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