Remember our fallen

Today is Memorial Day, a day when we honor and remember our fallen.

More than one million American servicemembers have died in wars that our nation has been involved in since the first colonial soldiers took up arms in 1775.

Observances are taking place today in communities across America, but there can never be too many of them.

We must never lose focus of what Memorial Day means. It’s not about picnics. It is a day to remember.

It is a day to remember men like Army Staff Sgt. Travis Mills of downstate Vassar. He was wounded when he dropped a bag on an improvised explosive device in April 2012 during his third deployment in Afghanistan.

He’s one of only a few servicemen to lose four limbs in combat during the Iraq and Afghanistan wars and survive.

At the State Senate Memorial Service in Lansing, Mills became emotional while recalling a few of his colleagues that died during his three tours, including one he said he “looked up to as a big brother.”

“Memorial Day for me has a special meaning,” he said.

Despite his injuries, Mills says he can now walk everywhere and feed himself.

We must never forget what these heroes have done and what their loved ones have lost.

There are many ways to remember our fallen heroes.

The traditional way is with flowers and flags for their graves or with observances such as those that are taking place today.

If you asked our heroes before they died how they would like to be honored, most would probably say, “Please take care of my family.”

The widows, widowers, fathers, mothers, brothers, sisters and children remember every day.

The empty seat at the dinner table, the smaller gathering on Thanksgiving, and the voice of a loved one heard only as a distant memory in one’s mind are constant reminders that they are gone.

It is important that all Americans pause to reflect on, remember and give thanks to our many heroes.

We owe them no less.

More than 100 years ago, President Lincoln paid this nation’s most complete tribute to America’s war dead when he said at Gettysburg, “…in a larger sense, we cannot dedicate, we cannot consecrate, we cannot hallow this ground. The brave men, living and dead who struggled here, have consecrated it far above our power to add or detract. The world will little note, nor long remember, what we do here; but it can never forget what they did here.”

Memorial Day is the day we remember and glorify those who lost their lives fighting for our nation.

Let us remember the sacrifices of those who fought for our freedom – and who are still fighting to protect it.

The men and women we remember on Memorial Day demonstrated the highest form of faith in the triumph of good over evil.

Their graves tell the story of our nation.