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Today, we honor our veterans, the fallen heroes who laid down their lives in defense of the freedoms and values we so embrace. But our words, our flower wreaths and our patriotic songs will do little to honor the bravery of these men and women if we do not ourselves hold fast to the freedoms and values they fought so valiantly to preserve.

Abraham Lincoln, in his famous 1863 Gettysburg Address dedicating a portion of the battlefield as a final resting place for those who had fallen in that great Civil War battle, said: "But 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 poor power to add or detract. The world will little note nor long remember what we say here, but it can never forget what they did here. It is for us the living rather to be dedicated here to the unfinished work which they who fought here have thus far so nobly advanced. It is rather for us to be here dedicated to the great task remaining before us -- that from these honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which they gave the last full measure of devotion -- that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain, that this nation under God shall have a new birth of freedom, and that government of the people, by the people, for the people shall not perish from the earth."

Regardless of one's views on that terrible war that once divided this nation, these words of Abraham Lincoln still speak to us today and apply to those from every state who have given their lives in defense of this nation and its constitutional form of government.

It is fitting that we remember the great sacrifices made by those who have fought to defend our land and our nation, but the greatest honor we can pay to those fallen heroes is not the placement of flowers on their graves or even the brief memorial services held in their honor each year. The greatest honor we can pay to those who fell defending their homeland and their freedoms is to continue their struggle to preserve our nation and the freedoms and values for which they sacrificed all.

These fallen soldiers went into battle that we might continue to have a government of the people, by the people and for the people. They shed their blood that we might have the freedom to worship and practice our faith, to give voice to our opinions and beliefs, to choose our own occupation and business, to keep and bear arms, to vote and elect our government officials, and to be free of government intrusion into our daily lives.

If we don't defend and guard these freedoms -- if we don't speak up in defense of what is right, don't take the time to vote, demand honest and fair elections, and don't let our elected leaders know of the values we want to be upheld -- why did these men die?

If we aren't willing to continue the struggle to preserve our constitution as written and the republic which our forefathers handed down to us, how are we honoring those who gave all to preserve this nation for us? If we are unwilling to take up arms in the defense of our nation and constitution and be supportive of those who do so in our stead, are we not dishonoring those who have fallen and making vain their ultimate sacrifice?

And so, today and every day, it's good for us to take time to remember the great sacrifice that so many have made to preserve for us our constitution, our nation and our freedom.

But let us not let the memory of these fallen heroes die there and be forgotten for another year. Let us carry on the struggle and work for which they sacrificed their lives. Let us uphold their values and beliefs and defend the principles and freedoms passed down to us by our founding fathers.

Let us resolve anew to make their dying devotion our living devotion!

Randy Moll is the managing editor of the Westside Eagle Observer. He may be reached by email at [email protected] nwaonline.com.

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