Editor’s note: The following Memorial Day editorial ran in The Gazette, May 27, 2002. It has been updated to reflect current events.

For many, today is one of ritual and homage to those who have died in military service to our nation. Gravesites will be decorated and the flag, symbolic of freedoms they defended with ultimate sacrifice, will be ubiquitous.

It is a time to reflect, if only too briefly, on what those we remember today have to tell us about the true meaning of commitment, honor, integrity and valor in the face of death. And to reflect, as well, on the freedoms they stood for in life and death.

The freedom to speak our minds; to worship as we choose; to associate with those of our choice; to make our own way on life’s path; to defend ourselves, our liberty and our property. This is their legacy to us, just as it is the legacy of our nation’s founders, and it is our obligation to embrace their enduring gift to us in a way that ensures the generations to come will respect and value it in equal or perhaps greater measure.

It is our most precious inheritance. But our reflection will not be complete without thinking as well about the fact we are, in a sense, not at peace now and haven’t been for quite some time.

With World War II and the Cold War now confined to history books, the prospects are thankfully remote that such a huge loss of American life on the battlefield as we sustained in those epic struggles will come again anytime soon.

But in Colorado Springs, with our high concentration of soldiers, airmen and military veterans, a large number of our neighbors know firsthand the vigilance and dedication required to maintain the security of our nation. Military people and their families live each day with the knowledge that they, too, may be asked to pay the ultimate earthly price in the service of their country as some already have in Afghanistan and Iraq.

President Donald Trump on Friday announced that the U.S. will deploy roughly 1,500 troops to the Middle East in order to counter Iran’s influence in the region.

The tragic loss of American lives in all wars raises an enduring question: Does the freedom we enjoy today as individuals and as a nation justify this terrible price of death and human suffering?

With a sober eye toward history, we must say yes.

Freedom does have a price, and it is worth paying. Unfortunately, it is not enough for Americans to simply assert that God has granted us unalienable rights to life, liberty, property and the pursuit of happiness.

Throughout history, and continuing today, there are people in control of foreign governments who desire to take away that freedom.

And we must hope we will always have those among us willing to defend that freedom.

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