Memorial Day is nearly upon us, bringing with it all we have come to associate with the first holiday of the summer: pools will open, vacations will start and others will enjoy a leisurely weekend at the beach, Caddo Lake or with friends and family around the barbecue pit. But before we embark on our hard-earned vacations, we ask residents to take a moment to think on the courage, dedication and sacrifice that purchased this day for us.

The men and women who have served this country, in life and in death, did so to enable Americans to live freely and fully, secure in the knowledge that they could barbecue or visit with friends safely in their own homes.

The tradition of Memorial Day dates back to the Civil War when it was known as Decoration Day and commemorated the Union and Confederate soldiers who died fighting to piece this nation back together. Loved ones observed the day by visiting the graves of soldiers, leaving flowers and tokens of remembrance. Americans began using the name, Memorial Day, around the turn of the century before it began to pick up steam after World War II. It was not until 1967 that it was declared the official name by federal law.

It was done not so much that these great men and women would be remembered, but that they would not be forgotten. And we, as a nation, with our short memories and our busy schedules, have much we can’t forget.

From the first musket fire at Lexington to the miraculous victory of Col. Jackson’s army at the battle of New Orleans, we became a nation on the backs of those who fell. From the bitter blows brothers traded in Gettysburg, to the over 200 Texans who died defending the Alamo we crafted our borders and our ideals through sacrifice of common citizen soldiers. From the trenches of Verdun to the blood soaked beaches of Normandy, then to the wastelands of Inchon and the sweat-stained fields of Ia Drang we protected he world with the blood of our best. And we still do every day in Afghanistan.

We, as a nation, will forever owe a debt that can’t be repaid to those brave men and women who paid the ultimate and constant price for our liberty.

Marshall residents will be able to mark this special day by attending the Greater Marshall Chamber of Commerce’s annual Memorial Day Celebration at 11 a.m. at Meadowbrook Funeral Home.

Whether residents witness or participate in this or similar ceremonies Monday, we hope you take time during the day to reflect on those not with us and remember the cost of freedom is never free.