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Decorating graves

LINCOLN, NEB - 05/25/2017 Girls from the Lincoln Comets soccer team place roses on graves in synchronization at the Civil War Memorial site at Wyuka Cemetary on Thursday, May 25, 2017. AMBER BAESLER, Lincoln Journal Star

Memorial Day marks the unofficial start of summer, with a three-day weekend bringing trips to the lake, family get-togethers and time for relaxation.

Before enjoying this holiday, reflect for a moment why we’re at liberty to celebrate it. Without the nearly 250 years of uninterrupted service men and women have dedicated to our country, we may not enjoy the freedom we have today.

Sacrifice and service were the only things that preserved the American ideals at Valley Forge and Fort McHenry and our very Union on battlefields at Antietam and Gettysburg. Without those qualities, good may not triumph over evil at Omaha Beach or Monte Cassino. In these and all other wars, nearly 1 million Americans since 1775 have given their lives in protection of our country.

Even at times of relative peace stateside past and present, our soldiers, sailors, airmen and Marines deploy far from their families and friends. Today, as missions and nature of war have evolved, they remain in defense of the U.S. against terrorism – and in pursuit of a better world. On these assignments, they could be called to give their lives for their country.

And no community in Nebraska is immune from this loss. People in your city or town are taking a break from fun festivities for a moment of contemplation and to honor those we've lost.

For those who have previously served in the military or lost their lives on duty, their service deserves our gratitude. On few days is the need for the reminder that freedom isn't free more evident than Memorial Day.

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