In 1968, a young Marine Lance Corporal named Stephen Daniel took a few minutes to mourn his friend who he lost in battle the night before in the jungles of Vietnam. The Lance Corporal wrote home to his parents the following night:
Mom and Dad: Last night one more Marine died. No one will ever hear or care about it except his parents and us. There is no nation to mourn for him or fly our flag at half-mast. Yet this Marine did more for his country than any President or Senator ever did. His name was Corporal Lee Clark.
Just a few years after L.Cpl. Daniel lost his friend, Cpl. Clark, in battle, the U.S. Congress passed the National Holiday Act of 1971. Part of this act set Memorial Day to be observed as the last Monday in May rather than on a particular date on the calendar and with its passage Congress did little more than to create a national three-day weekend. In its 2002 Memorial Day address, the Veterans of Foreign Wars stated:
 "Changing the date merely to create three-day weekends has undermined the very meaning of the day. No doubt, this has contributed greatly to the general public's nonchalant observance of Memorial Day."
Unfortunately, I believe the VFW is right on the mark. While several towns still observe this day of remembrance, many towns and communities have lost their traditional Memorial Day parades to history. Many young people fail to recognize the ultimate sacrifices that American men and women have made during some of the most uncertain times in our nations history. Ironically, thousands of youths will take this day off from school only to sit inside all day and play video games such as Medal of Honor or Call of Duty without ever having someone explain to them what those words really mean. 
By noon on Memorial Day, many people will have spent countless hours and even days planning some type of get-together for their family, friends or co-workers complete with BBQ and lemonade to enjoy as their kids play games in the yard. Many people will enjoy this time with their families and they will be sure to mention a soldier or Marine they know of that didn’t make it home but many others will only think about having a good time. 
"Ironically, thousands of youths will take this day off from school only to sit inside all day and play video games such as Medal of Honor or Call of Duty without ever having someone explain to them what those words actually mean. "
This Memorial Day, please take a moment, not just to think about someone who paid the ultimate sacrifice, but to talk about someone who paid the ultimate sacrifice. Mention to your kids that the reason the school closed down for a day was so they could have time to remember the kids whose father was killed in Iraq or Afghanistan.  We all need to do what we can to protect the sanctity of Memorial Day; to remember that it has more to do with body bags than BBQ. While we are getting together with some of your friends, lets have enough courage to mention the courage of those 18 year olds who have paid the ultimate sacrifice for our freedom to enjoy a day off in their honor. 
Many people have personally known someone who has paid for our freedom with their life however; I would say that most Americans haven’t had the honor. If you don’t personally know of anyone that you can specifically remember on Memorial Day, lets do L.Cpl. Daniel a favor and remember his buddy Cpl. Lee Clark. Lets think about what L.Cpl. Daniel must have gone through and then think about how hard it must have been for Cpl. Clarks family the moment they received the news that there young son was killed by the enemy half-way around the world while he fought for his life and the life of his Marines. Then remember that these Marines and there families aren’t alone.  Let’s not let these heroic deeds go without showing some degree of gratitude; lets be sure to demonstrate our gratefulness. 

U.S. Air Force Colonel, Walter Hitchcock said it best when he coined the term “Freedom isn’t free.” We have been blessed in America but it has cost our fighting men and their families dearly. To say that freedom isn’t free would also imply that it costs us each something as well. I suppose that if we only depended on the acts of others to keep us free without any sacrifice of our own then our freedom would be free but since freedom “isn’t” free, I would have to ask what have we done, as individuals, for the security of our liberty.  Can we honestly say that we have completed the sacrifice of our fallen soldiers to ensure they didn’t give their life in vain? I would argue that each American has a profound duty to guard our freedom however we are able. Whether its working on campaigns or as an activist for some important issue or by showing up on election day to choose your leaders, we all have a responsibility to fight for freedom at home also. Many of us are familiar with the phrase, “All gave some, some gave all” but would it be a terrible thing for us to let the greatness of our country slip away, little by little, election after election, only to have some of Americas bravest and youngest have given all for nothing? It is no small weight of responsibility that we bear, as Americans, to ensure that we complete the sacrifices made by our fallen countrymen. 

Picture2nd Lt. Cathey and Cpl. Tremblay
It is incumbent on us to remember that the purpose of our entire government is to help keep us free, the military shares this responsibility at the risk of life and limb. Let us at home support and defend the Constitution that they swore an oath to support and defend. Two of my friends and Marine Corps brothers were killed in action in Iraq. I served with them both back in the early 2000s. I want to thank them both, 2nd Lt. Cathey and Cpl Tremblay, I miss them and I am honored to have known them and to have served with them and I will never forget what they have done for myself and my fellow Americans and I promise that I will do my best to complete the sacrifice they have made and I will always fight for the freedom of the people and for the security of their liberty.

5/26/2013 10:22:33 pm

Thank you for taking the time to write this, and thank you to all who protect and fight for our freedom and our liberty.

Carmela Werner
5/26/2013 10:26:28 pm

A salute to our fellow countrymen who have given of themselves for our liberty and freedom here in America. Thank you!

Joanie Breihan
5/26/2013 11:02:13 pm

Our thanks and prayers go out to all the military and their families, to those who now serve, to those who paid the ultimate price while serving. I am grateful for all of them. May God have mercy on this nation; may we "wake up" in time to save her by defending our Constitution. My prayer is that you will pray for her, learn her amazing history, educate those around you--simply TAKE A STAND. God bless

Trish Mitchell
5/27/2013 01:13:52 am

I too am grateful for all those that fought and died for their families and complete strangers. It takes a special kind of individual who will go off to war and fight for freedom. I love my country and I love the soldiers who fight for it everyday. May all those soldiers who have died rest peacefully in the arms of Jesus.

Gravelyvoice Jim
5/27/2013 01:20:31 am

Outstanding! Sad that more of those who we are choose to represent us don't get this. Semper Fi!

Chris Dinkins
5/27/2013 01:45:08 am

Thanks for sharing and Thank you for your service.

5/27/2013 02:39:05 am

Written beautifully. Brought tears to my eyes and may be the only Memorial Day speech I hear. Maybe a speech should me made at schools the previous Friday to explain and show the importance and meaning of getting the day off. Thank you very much for this message! I will be summerizing for my children before they swim. Again thank you. My flag is going up as soon as I send this!

Jay Savan
5/27/2013 02:42:45 am

Representative Curtman, thank you for your inspirational message and your personal service to Liberty. My family and I will be sure to remember L.Cpl. Daniel, his buddy Cpl. Lee Clark, and your fellow Marines, 2nd Lt. Cathey and Cpl. Tremblay. We owe all of you a debt we can never repay. God bless each of you, and God bless America.

Elayne Allen
5/27/2013 04:26:23 am

Well written and far more important to this country than anything the current administration has to say. The travesty of Benghazi ending in the death of still more military shows the disdain our president has for the heroes of America. Thankfully, both of my (adult) children attended a memorial day celebration with their children. The focus was not on the barbeque. God bless all of our military that protect our freedoms and may all of our fallen heroes have the blessings of God and peace in their death.

Rastus Bodeen
5/27/2013 06:10:15 am

This commentary is so true. I salute the brave men and women who have given their life for us on this day and always !!!

Audrey Chaney
5/27/2013 07:51:08 am

What a well written message, and reminder of the true reason for the Holiday. Thank you for your service, and dedication to continue the fight to preserve our rights, liberty and freedoms granted by the Constitution of the United States of American. GOD bless you and our Country.

Bill Burt
5/27/2013 11:32:56 am

Thank you Paul, for your service and thanks for your fight in the name of liberty. Each of us need to do something in the fight for liberty. To me, the most important part in the fight, is to make sure Americans are never disarmed, and this is why I have been a hard core, gun rights activist, for decades. As I have written many times, if we were to allow the disarming of America, what kind of life would our citizens have. There has been far to much blood shed, since our Founding Fathers fought to create the greatest experiment in human liberty, in the history of the world, to let that blood be shed in vain. This is why we cannot submit to any registration of guns, since this is always the first step before confiscation. Guns keep us free!

rod will
5/27/2013 01:29:18 pm

Paul , thank you.

Doug Dragert
5/28/2013 12:00:51 am

Thank you, Paul. Well done, well put. That came froma warrior's heart. I'm proud to have been a brother in arms with you. God bless you and yours.

Mary Syron
5/28/2013 12:24:47 pm

As usual, well written, Paul. We've come to expect excellence from you and you always deliver. You are a Patriot and Missouri is lucky to have you as a Representative of our state. You are an inspiration. Thank you for your service, and like you say, I feel it's imperative that people remember the reason for the Memorial Day Holiday. It isn't about swimming pools and hot dogs... it's about our fallen Warriors. Yes, Freedom isn't free! My flag was always up for significant holidays like this one, but after 9/11 it went up and has been there since. Thanks again for more words of wisdom from a wise and patriotic warrior!

Gene Ford
8/27/2013 06:29:06 pm

Thank You Paul Curtman. As a Vietnam Vet i add Rich Mehl and my grade school friend Melvin Wolfe who's name stands on a Wall. Thanks to all my bros who gave there life for us. May they RIP they come to my mind every year

Phil Nussear
12/20/2013 03:10:59 am

Unfortunately when we came home from Vietnam there were no parades, flags were being burned and school children were being told we were murderers. We were warned to not wear our uniform and to not tell anyone that we served. Today's veterans vowed to never let this happen again, and it hasn't. God bless those who served, and remember those who didn't survive as well as their families.

5/20/2015 10:49:31 pm

We remember


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