We salute our fallen heroes and our recent graduates

June 01, 2010

Editor's note: The following editorial appeared in the Monday, May 31, 2010, print edition of The Herald-Mail:

For a decade now, we've listened every day to the causality list from battles in the Middle East. This fighting is different from wars of the past, because the enemy is not a nation; instead, the enemy is an idea.

We are fighting the idea that freedom and democracy are evils. We are fighting the idea that women should be trampled underfoot. We are fighting the idea that cowardly attacks on innocent civilians are perfectly acceptable if done in the name of religion.

Certainly, these are ideas worth combating, making the selfless work of our service men and women as important as that practiced in the more conventional wars of old.


This Memorial Day, we honor the fallen soldiers who served this nation both in recent times and long ago. And we know that while the tactics and strategy have changed, the mission remains the same -- these men and women fight and die, often in miserable circumstances, so that we can live happy lives.

Sometimes there is the criticism that people today treat Memorial Day only as a vacation, as a chance to shop, play volleyball and grill burgers.

This complaint is both right and wrong. It is correct when levied against those who go through the day solely immersed in their own pleasures, without giving our dead heroes a passing thought.

However, in no small way, our soldiers are fighting for our right to shop, play volleyball and grill burgers. As stated in the Declaration of Independence, they are fighting for our pursuit of happiness. There is probably no better way to honor our dead than to do the things that we enjoy, because that's why soldiers go to war -- to fight for our way of life.

But as we pursue happiness, it is proper, it is necessary, to remember those who died so that we might live. And live in happiness. So as you enjoy your day, take a second to salute the sky. There's bound to be a soldier there, smiling at your joy and saluting back.

While saluting our fallen veterans, we also salute graduating seniors across the Tri-State area. School is over; let your education begin.

We understand that this might not be the best time to be a graduating senior, especially for those who are entering the job market. Views differ concerning the course of our economy. We appear to be in a recovery, but governments worldwide that have approved rich economic stimulus plans will, sooner or later, have to pay the piper. Whether this involves higher taxes or slashed programs, it represents another economic stumbling block that could hinder a return to the good old days.

Seniors must recognize, too, that these aforementioned good old days were paid for on credit. For this, feel free to blame your parents. Rather than live frugally, we have run up our credit cards, sold out the equity in our homes and raided our retirement funds.

Do not repeat this mistake. A little frugality and sacrifice today will save you from being financially strapped tomorrow.

It might also seem unfair that you will be paying for the sins of nations such as Greece, Portugal, Spain and North Korea. As our economy has gone global, it has offered significant opportunity. But it has come with a price. Conflicts and economic disturbances overseas that would not have caused a ripple here 20 years ago now threaten entire financial systems.

So graduates must be clever and consider the world when considering their careers. It also does not hurt to pick up a second language.

And for high school seniors, the unsettled economy does present one advantage -- there is no rush to get out into the work force. The phrase "stay in school" used to prod high school students into gritting it through to the end of their senior year. Now, stay in school means a four-year college degree, or at least a couple of certificates from the local community college.

Your guidance counselors have already (hopefully) filled you in about the large income gap that exists between high school graduates and college graduates.

Technically, it is still possible to earn a good living without college, just as it is possible to make an NFL roster as a walk-on. But it's happening less and less.

So with all this cheery news, we wish you the best. We know you will succeed and do Washington County proud. It may take more flexibility and determination than it has in the past, but few are limited by anything beyond the limits they place on themselves.

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