Holiday a reminder of those who paid the ultimate price

It’s easy to think of Memorial Day just as the unofficial start to the summer season or a long weekend off from work.

But stories like George F. Ritola’s are a reminder that some gave all for this country and that’s why Memorial Day was started, to honor heroes such as he.

The story of Republic native Ritola is featured in today’s and Monday’s Mining Journal. He was killed at age 21 while serving as an Army soldier in France during the Second World War.

Like so many – too many – he died protecting our freedom, an example of the ultimate sacrifice made for the greater good.

We thank Ritola and all the other military members who have perished, standing tall in defense of liberty.

This weekend, we also should thank all the men and women who served in any capacity in our armed forces through the years, like those World War II veterans who recently took a journey to Washington, D.C., as part of Mission IV for the Upper Peninsula Honor Flight.

U.P. Honor Flight has already brought more than 300 WWII veterans to the nation’s capital and is scheduled to bring another planeload to D.C. this fall. It is expanding, as well, to include Korean War veterans in the next mission should there not be enough Second World War vets signed up to fill the plane.

In Monday’s Mining Journal you can read more about Mission IV and meet the Superiorland veterans who made that trip.

There is nothing wrong about having a wonderful weekend, filled with BBQs and other family fun. After all, those things are part of what makes this country special indeed.

But it remains incumbent on each of us to pause, at least for a moment, to honor those who have died in service to this nation throughout American history.

We thank our war dead and the families they left behind for helping us to remain the land of the free and the home of the brave.