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Dear friends:

The first holiday of the summer is almost here—Memorial Day. So many of us look forward to this holiday because it is usually the first sign of summer and a very special time to be with family.

Memorial Day has many traditions for me. As you may recall, it used to be called “Decoration Day.” I remember going with my parents when I was a small child to the various cemeteries where our loved ones were buried. We would clear the grave site and plant spring flowers. Finally, we would always pray, thanking God for their lives, their influence on us and the singular memories they had given us. This is quite important to me.

Another tradition for me is attending the Indianapolis 500 Mile Race. I have attended “The Greatest Spectacle in Racing” event since I was in the fourth grade. I first went with my uncle Orla. Throughout the years I have gone with my father, my brother-in-law, my wife—but most of the time during the last several years it has been with my sister Sue. We will be going again this year. What a tradition!!

There are many customs at Indy but the ones I appreciate the most are those associated with honoring our soldiers. Men and women of all branches march around the 2½-mile oval. As they march by, all stand and clap in appreciation for the sacrifice they and thousands of others have made for our freedom. As they parade by, I always get goose bumps. Finally, “Taps” is played. Even though there are more than 500,000 people in attendance, silence always falls over the crowd. Many have tears in their eyes, including me.

A few years ago this custom was exceptional. All the living Medal of Honor recipients marched single file around the track. These extraordinary Americans have given so much for our freedom. As you know, most Medals of Honor are given posthumously to the families of the fallen soldier by the President. Most recipients do not survive their heroic act. What a sight it was to see the survivors march around the track. I had tears in my eyes. I then looked up and a stealth bomber was flying over. What a feeling of pride I had in my heart. I was so emotionally involved that many around me wanted to know if I was alright.

So, my friends, these are my thoughts this Memorial Day. We should never forget that men and women have given and are giving their time and their health—and some their lives—for you and me. Freedom comes with a great price. Many seem to forget that today.

Thank you for allowing me to be a part of your Memorial Day.

God bless you,