I wrote this last year, but having a brother fresh out of Marines boot camp makes it more surreal.

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Although I’m grateful for all our veterans, today is for remembering those like my cousin and so many others who gave their all for our freedom. They will not be forgotten.

***   ***   ***

It used to be just like any other summer holiday, and like most Americans, we’d usually grill, maybe swim or take a bike ride, and enjoy our day off from work or school.

Originally called Decoration Day, a day to commemorate those lost in the Civil War, it was eventually changed to Memorial Day in 1967, to honor those lost in all of our wars.

It wasn’t til nine years ago that I really stopped to think what this “holiday” was really about. Only 11 days before the Memorial Day of that year, we learned that my cousin was shot and killed by a sniper in Iraq. He was standing atop his tank, tossing candy to some Iraqi children when the bullet hit him.

I was 15 and had never experienced a family loss, nor did I ever expect my extended family to be the ones to feel the effects of war firsthand. I caught a glimpse of what grieving families for centuries have endured when startled with the news that their soldier would never come home.

In the 237 years America has been a free country, it has cost us over 1,309,000 lives.

Let us not forget the lives, and the families, who sacrificed so we can live free.

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