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Honoring soldiers least we can do

Monday is Memorial Day and despite what most people think it was not created to mark the beginning of summer and only an excuse for another three-day federal holiday.

The last Monday of May was designated a holiday to commemorate the men and women who died while serving in the American military.

Originally known as Decoration Day, it originated in the years following the Civil War and became an official federal holiday in 1971.

Though apparently not well known by the majority of Americans judging by attendance there are Memorial Day Services across the country.

Monday's Memorial Day services in Belfield is at 10 a.m. at the Belfield Theatre, with a luncheon to follow at Memorial Hall and Dickinson's service will be held at May Hall on the Dickinson State University campus at 10 a.m.

I have been to several across the country and Dickinson's is probably better attended than most, but it is still just a fraction of the people who live here. Maybe stronger attendance in North Dakota is because though a small population size the state has historically had more than its share of North Dakotans serving in the military.

The high number of our state's residents that have put themselves in harms way protecting the rest of us has resulted in too many soldiers killed throughout our country's history.

Recently, every community from east to west including Dickinson seems to have lost a soldier in the conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Their sacrifice allows us to enjoy freedoms and security that are tested every day across the world. We owe each of those who paid the ultimate sacrifice for us our deepest appreciation and respect.

Locally, Vietnam veterans Brian Benesh and Jim Jenson understand better than most and together they have placed 780 American flags at the gravesites of Dickinson, South Heart and New Hradec veterans. Having served in combat gives them a unique appreciation the rest of us who did not, will ever understand, however their commitment to their fellow veterans should serve as an example.

Honoring those that paid the ultimate sacrifice for our country on the first Monday of May each year seems like really the very least we can do, even if it takes us away from the lake or golf course for an hour or two.

-- Brock is The Dickinson Press publisher. E-mail him at