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An imperishable monument
By Larry Reisman
Treasure Coast Newspapers


May 08, 2005

Today we recognize the end of World War II in Europe 60 years ago. A major milestone, V-E Day did not end the war entirely.

Our forces still had to cope with the forces of Imperial Japan in the Pacific, and there would have to be more fighting and dying before a troubled peace could be brought to the world.

Today, though, is a time to honor those men and women who still live among us, as well as those who fell in the conflict or have died since the war ended.

The number of the heroes and heroines is dwindling fast.

Rendering honors is difficult, for, as Abraham Lincoln observed in his address dedicating the cemetery at Gettysburg, " ... we cannot dedicate, we cannot consecrate, we cannot hallow this ground. The brave men, living and dead, who struggled here, have consecrated it far beyond our power to add or detract ... "

So, too, have the men and women who struggled through World War II ennobled our nation and the world.

Not long ago, dignitaries gathered to dedicate the long-delayed monument to World War II in Washington, a city filled with monuments to greatness, glory and victory. Many said it was a shame that the nation had taken so long to honor the sacrifices of almost an entire nation from 1941 to 1945. While it is true no single marble and bronze edifice had been erected, a monument to the sacrifice already existed: All of us lived and continue to live in it.

That monument has been called by many names: the American way of life, Democracy, Freedom, Liberty and, finally, the United States of America. It is a monument more enduring than marble, bronze, granite and steel, because it represents the eternal ideals of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness - ideals for which a generation suffered and died.

The imperishable monument is our lives, and the lives of all freedom-loving people given us by the graying heroes of yesteryear.

The lesson we can draw from the valiant sacrifice is engraved on the base of another monument in Washington, the one to the Korean War that ended 52 years ago: "Freedom is not Free."


Distributed by Scripps Howard News Service

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