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Dear Customers,

                 As anticipation builds for the coming summer we gear up for a season of vacations, swimming, picnics, barbeques, parades, carnivals and fireworks displays.  The weather is finally temperate, and evenings go on and on because the sun seems as reluctant to go to bed as the neighborhood kids.  While the excitement of Memorial Day with all its festivities and gatherings awaits us at the end of the coming week, it’s easy to overlook the real reason we celebrate the last Monday in May. 

                Even though Memorial Day marks the unofficial beginning of summer it is, more importantly, America’s most solemn occasion.  Since the 18th century, Americans have answered the call to arms whenever and wherever asked.  Some of these brave patriots returned home in a flag-draped casket.  Others are lost on foreign soil, never to return.  Those that do are often wounded - either physically, emotionally or both.  The sacrifice our veterans selflessly made for their country, their families and friends demands our respect and, more importantly, our gratitude.  It is so easy to go about our day-to-day lives, immersed in our own petty, often insignificant troubles, never even giving a thought to the thousands of men and women who put their own lives on hold to defend our freedom.  They endure hardships we can’t even imagine in places we can’t picture under conditions we cannot begin to fathom.

                When the color guard at the head of the Memorial Day parade pauses on the Veteran’s Bridge this coming Monday morning, the soft sounds of the wind as it flutters our nation’s flag will lend harmonic support to the mournful notes of bugles offering their honored rendition of Butterfield’s Lullaby.  A wreath will then drop the thirty feet into Marvin Creek, floating slowly downstream as seven veterans each fire three volleys in tribute to their fallen brethren.  My throat will constrict involuntarily, and it is at that moment that I’m never prouder to live in a small town.  The Hometown Hero banners adorning many of our streets give the reason why.  The faces depicted there are of friends, family and most importantly, of those we loved.   It is only fitting to honor them, to remember them . . . and to miss them.

                I realized that this column is a bit shorter than usual.  Perhaps with the time you saved, you might offer a silent prayer of thanksgiving in memory of those who served and in gratitude to those who still do.

“Day is done, Gone the sun,
From the lake, From the hill,
From the sky.
All is well, Safely rest,
God is nigh.”