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Memorial Day

May 28th is Memorial Day in the United States, a day when Americans honor those who have paid freedom's highest price.

Americans fought in 1775 to win independence from Britain. The American Revolution established the self-evident truth that "all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights, that among these are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness." Those words came from the American Declaration of Independence.

But the American experiment almost failed in 1861, when the southern states rebelled over the issue of slavery. A terrible four-year civil war followed. The Union was ultimately preserved in a struggle that, as President Abraham Lincoln put it, ensured that "government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth."

In the twentieth century, the U.S. entered the First World War in response to aggression by Imperial Germany and its allies. Democracy was threatened again in the Second World War by Nazi Germany, Fascist Italy, and Imperial Japan. More than three-hundred thousand Americans died to defeat those aggressors.

American forces fought again to resist Communist aggression in Korea in the 1950s and in Vietnam in the 1960s. They played a decisive role in defeating Iraqi aggression in Kuwait in 1991 and in the 1999 NATO air campaign to stop atrocities by Yugoslav forces against ethnic Albanians in Kosovo.

By December 2001, a U.S.-led coalition and Afghan resistance forces had removed the Taleban regime in Afghanistan. In March 2003, U.S.-led coalition forces brought an end to the brutal Saddam Hussein regime in Iraq. U.S. servicemen and women continue to serve in Afghanistan and Iraq, along with troops from many nations, to meet the threat of extremism and terrorism.

In his Memorial Day proclamation, President George W. Bush said, “when it has mattered most, patriots from every corner of our nation have taken up arms to uphold ideals that make our country a beacon of hope and freedom for the entire world.”

The preceding was an editorial reflecting American ideals and institutions.