First, I would like to state Memorial Day is more than the end of a three-day weekend. As a combat veteran, an officer in the local Veteran Service Organization and the Beyond the Yellow Ribbon Community Coordinator, it's my most sacred obligation in remembering the nation's defenders, who paid the ultimate sacrifice. And it is up to the Veteran Service Organization and me, to set an example for others to follow. Many of members within the community are part of the nation's largest group of wartime veterans, served in harm's harms way and know intimately what it is like to lose friends on faraway battlefields. SGT Michael “Shrek” Carlson, St Paul, United States Army, 23, died Jan 24, 2005, Operation Iraq Freedom and CPL Benjamin Koop, 21, Rosemount, July 18, 2009, Hermand Province, Afghanistan. That's why I and my comrades, as American Legion, Veterans of Foreign Wars and American Veterans (AMVETS) members, always strive to keep their memories alive and demonstrate to others how to observe Memorial Day. Our communities expect us to show them how to do it correctly. Most of the community knows how to properly observe Memorial Day. Here's what's happening in Hastings MN. A patriotic program at the 9:00 am, Hastings Veterans Home, 10:00 am, Roadside Park, followed by Soldier and Sailors Cemetery and the Veterans Memorial-Levee; Distribution of “Buddy” Poppy cards and poppies; sight of the squared away honor guard/memorial squad and bugler; placement of over 1000 Bronze Star markers and flags in area cemeteries. In addition, a “March for Them, will start in the early hours of the morning and conclude at or about 5:00 PM at the Veterans Memorial-Levee with key note speaker, Gold Star Mother Jill Stephenson. More than 1.2 million Americans have died in uniform since the Revolutionary War. Their life's were cut short so the rest of us could live free and pursue our dreams. Memorial Day was conceived by veterans and their families as a way to remember them. But for too many Americans, it is merely a three-day weekend, a holiday celebrating the official start of summer. We must remind the public that those who have died in uniform are not just names on a piece of marble or stone in a city park. They are people who left behind grieving families and a legacy of service to which all Americans should aspire. So I ask you, to do your part, to keep focus on why we observe this special day. Our communities expect it. Our brothers and sisters-in-arms who paid the ultimate price for all of us, deserve it.