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Don't wait for Memorial Day to say thanks to our veterans

KEESLER AIR FORCE BASE, Miss. -- The official Memorial Day has been observed for 2007; however, at the 124 national cemeteries across the U.S., every day is a chance for Americans to honor their veterans. 

Airmen, Marines, Soldiers and Sailors from all eras lie side-by-side with a common theme -- they served their country well. 

A recent early morning bicycle ride among the 377 acres at the Indiantown Gap National Cemetery in Pennsylvania highlighted the respect Americans have for their veterans and the joys of everyday life veterans left behind. With the backdrop of the mountains and rolling hills and aroma of lilacs in the air, flags waved in the gentle breeze and the sun beamed down on the majestic replicas of a bombed-out farm and church. As usual, the grass, shrubs, trees, buildings and grave sites were immaculately maintained.
 
As the deer bounded and squirrels scampered around the clusters of trees, the birds contributed their chirping as if to say they were watching over all the veterans and visitors. The early morning visitors included three generations of a family paying their respects at one grave. Hopefully, this is a tradition the baby will continue in later years. 

In another section of the cemetery, a woman lovingly placed flowers at a grave site. Other early risers included three people emerging from an out-of-state vehicle. 

These visitors' stories may be different, but they share the common thread of remembering those who served their country well. 

The peacefulness was occasionally interrupted by the echo of weapons fire as current Soldiers honed their skills at Ft. Indiantown Gap -- a sad reminder that more veterans will join their brethren in these places of honor. 

Don't wait for the next official Memorial Day -- visit a national cemetery and say thank you to the veterans who served their country well.