America pauses at least twice each year ó on Memorial Day and Veterans Day ó to honor members of its armed forces. But more than at any other time, Memorial Day focuses on those whose dedication cost them their lives.

Many Memorial Day observances focus on the high price these patriots have paid for the freedom their sacrifices won for the rest of us. On this weekend, with hundreds of thousands of service men and women putting their lives at risk each day, it is also appropriate to consider what it is the price they paid has bought.

It has bought each American, and others who call the United States home, an unprecedented measure of liberty to pursue employment, to worship as we please and to challenge the government to act in the best interest of the people.

It has bought each American the right and privilege to participate in the governing process, ensuring that the freedoms laid out in this nationís founding documents are not lost from generation to generation.

It has bought each American a sense of responsibility to honor their sacrifices by searching our own souls to see if we share that commitment to our country and our neighbors. Fortunately, throughout this nationís history, many Americans have responded to that duty and placed themselves through hard work and training in a position to make a difference in history.

As beneficiaries of their sacrifices, we must do more than just reflect on them for a few moments on a few designated holidays. We must work for freedom every day. We must participate in this democracy by becoming informed on the issues and voting our conscience. We should certainly remember and reflect, but that should also lead us to action.

Brownwood Bulletin