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In his address following the battle at Gettysburg, Kentucky native and President Abraham Lincoln stated that we as Americans need “to be dedicated here to the unfinished work which they who fought here have thus far so nobly advanced.”
Lincoln went on to say in his Gettysburg address, “It is rather for us to be here dedicated to the great task remaining before us — that from these honored dead we may 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.”
While some like to think of Memorial Day as the start of the summer travel season and also big weekend sales, we must never forget why this day was established in May 1868: to remember those who fought and died to preserve and uphold the freedoms our great nation is founded upon.
In fact, many of the freedoms we enjoy, including the ability to travel where we want to go on vacation, where we worship and what careers we choose are due in large part because of our men and women in the military who have fought and died for those freedoms, going back to Gettysburg and beyond.
While we have built numerous monuments to their sacrifices, and celebrate their memory with parades and memorial services, it is upon all of us to make sure those who gave their lives in places like Bunker Hill, Okinawa and Iraq did not die in vain. We as Americans need to continue protecting the freedoms given to us by our forefathers and not let anything get in the way of standing as the beacon of freedom for the world.
We are fortunate to freely enjoy the fruits of their labor. Yet just as we are the beneficiaries of their service, we are also the trustees of their legacy. We must bear the awesome responsibility of ensuring that the millions of Americans who died on the altar of battle did not give their lives in vain.
As proud citizens of this country, we need to join together and remember not only those who gave their lives in battle, but the men and women across the world on the front lines every day fighting to protect what our forefathers set out.
On behalf of myself and the commonwealth, I wish you and your family a safe and happy Memorial Day.
John “Bam” Carney (R) is state representative in District 51, representing Adair and Taylor counties.