Terry Paulson

Unfortunately, far too many of our movies today, portray our soldiers negatively. Attacking our own seems to be one of the only politically correct targets Hollywood gives themselves permission to use. Until that changes, take time to "Saving Private Ryan" every Memorial Day.

Take time to dwell on the final battle scene. Captain Miller (Tom Hanks), whose men were charged to find and safely bring back Private Ryan, is mortally wounded. As Private Ryan (Matt Damon) kneels by his side, the captain says in his last breath, "Earn this." In the closing scene as Ryan's family walks the Normandy Cemetery, an aged Ryan implores his wife to reassure him that he has indeed "earned" what Miller and others did for him.

For each generation, on Memorial Day and every day, may all Americans once again take to heart Miller's charge to Ryan-"Earn this!"

How do we do that? In response to a column in 2005, a local master sergeant sent me the following message: "I have served in Bosnia, Afghanistan and Iraq so I suppose you could say I have seen first hand the cost of freedom. Since I returned from Iraq, I sometimes sit and wonder if people back here really understand or appreciate the depth of the sacrifices that have been made and are being made every day in order to protect our way of life and bring freedom to the Iraqi people. Every now and then I will talk to someone or read something that puts my mind at ease and reassures me that our soldiers haven't died in vain."

So please attend a Memorial Day service in your community, take time to say thank you today to any veteran or soldier who has served, for many of them have seen first hand the cost of freedom. As you walk a local cemetery, stop to say a prayer and lay a flower on the grave of one who gave his all. Extend comfort to any family member or friend whose loved ones paid the ultimate price. Remember, for those who have lost a parent, spouse, sibling, child or close friend to war, every day is Memorial Day.

So, as we gather today to remember, may we cherish the immortal words of Abraham Lincoln in his Gettysburg address: "We can not dedicate, we can not consecrate, we can not hallow, this ground. The brave men, living and dead, who struggled here, have consecrated it, far above our poor power to add or detract."

Terry Paulson

Terry Paulson, PhD is a psychologist, award-winning professional speaker, author of The Optimism Advantage: 50 Simple Truths to Transform Your Attitudes and Actions into Results, and long-time columnist for the Ventura County Star.

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