May 28 and 29: Two important days

Memorial Day Weekend is here again. For many, the holiday has become a three-day excursion of sun, fun, barbecue and beer that unofficially closes the curtain on the school year and ushers in what promises to be another hot and humid Southeast Texas summer. But don’t forget what makes Memorial Day the symbol of freedom that it is – the men and women who have died for this country, who served and continue to serve these United States.

This weekend is about remembering and honoring those who took an oath to protect this country from all enemies, foreign and domestic.When those brave men and women signed up for whatever military branch, they weren’t doing it for the glitz and the glamour, but to serve.This year the Memorial Day holiday falls on May 28. As we gather with family and friends at the beach, the park or in our own back yards, take a minute to remember those that venture into harm’s way on our behalf, whether it’s the troops still fighting in Afghanistan or flying fighter jets keeping watch in the Persian Gulf or on Coast Guard ships in the Gulf of Mexico. Don’t forget those who served in the military in the past, in war and peace – and say a prayer for those who made the supreme sacrifice for their country and the loved ones they left behind.

We owe them a debt that can never be repaid, but we must try. Abraham Lincoln spoke for this nation then and now that day at Gettysburg when he said “the great task remaining before us – that from these honored dead we 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.”

On May 29 – the day after Memorial Day – we have a chance to make good on that promise. It is election day for Democratic and Republican primary voters, with important races to be decided in both parties. You owe it to yourself, your fellow citizens and all those who fought so you could have the right to vote to exercise that sacred duty.

Do not merely walk into the polling place and pull a lever – take the time to acquaint yourself with the candidates and the issues for which they stand. Cast your vote for the man or woman you feel will do the best job without worrying about their party, gender or race – or how much campaign money they collected to bombard the airwaves with propaganda tearing down their opponent.

That is how we begin to fulfill Lincoln’s solemn pledge 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.”

It starts Tuesday, May 29 – and it starts with you.