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Editorial: Memorial Day: Take time to honor veterans

Memorial Day is the day that Americans have set aside to remember those who gave their lives so that our country might live.

Americans, who enjoy the peace purchased at the great price of death, should pay respect to all veterans who have made great sacrifices.

We get that opportunity Monday. Each Memorial Day we honor the men and women who fought in past wars and we pay tribute to the brave people fighting for and defending our freedoms.

We still have military personnel serving fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan today -- this war helps ensure a safer America while allowing Iraqi citizens and others the opportunity to enjoy freedom. Time will tell if they will take advantage of the opportunity, but it is American men and women clearing the path of freedom.

Since the beginning of the United States, men and women have fought in more than a dozen wars. If just one of those conflicts had ended differently, those of us alive today could be living under terrifyingly different circumstances.

Interestingly, most of our wars did not involve conquest. Our men and women put their lives on the line so that other people could enjoy freedom. We didn't defeat Germany, Japan or Iraq so that we could hoist the American flag over these countries.

The fact is, Americans have and will continue to pay to rebuild the countries we have defeated -- a unique concept in world history.

American servicemen and women are buried in cemeteries across America and in various places around the world. All died defending a way of life -- a way of life too many of us take for granted.

Ultimately, Memorial Day is for the living. It serves to remind all Americans of the debt they owe to those who came before them and the responsibility they bear to pass the national legacy to those who will follow.

We encourage all to attend a Memorial Day observance on Monday. Think about the American men and women below when you enjoy your holiday.

All died defending a way of life -- a way of life too many of us take for granted.

1775-1783 Revolutionary War 4,435 dead

1812-1815 War of 1812 2,260 dead

1846-1848 Mexican War 13,283 dead

1861-1865 Civil War 498,332 dead

1898 Spanish-American 2,446 dead

1914-1918 World War I 116,516 dead

1939-1945 World War II 405,399 dead

1950-1953 Korean Conflict 36,913 dead

1964-1973 Vietnam Conflict 58,177 dead

1983 Grenada Invasion 19 dead

1989 Panama Invasion 23 dead

1991 Persian Gulf War 383 dead

1992-1994 Somalia Operation 43 dead

1994-1996 Haiti Invasion 4 dead

2001-present Afghanistan 1,974 dead

2003-present Iraq 4,486 dead