Memorial Day 2008 comes as thousands of Americans are deployed around the world in the uniformed services of the United States. Inevitably, honoring the fallen and honoring veterans goes together with honoring those who currently serve in our place with their lives on the line.

I have experienced incredible moments of meaning in military cemeteries around the world. There is a solemn call of gratitude that speaks louder than words. Line after line of simple white markers speak the story of the cost of freedom. Cemeteries across this land are dotted with the markers of military service.

And it is so important that we remember especially those familes whose grief is so powerful and so recent. There are spouses, parents, children, brothers, sisters, and friends who grieve the over 4,000 of our troops who have died in Iraq and Afghanistan. While Americans celebrate and observe Memorial Day, that debt requires an attention we must not deny.

My son Christopher and I were in Chicago as the Memorial Day weekend began, and we were able to see the Chicago Memorial Day Parade. It is one of those great civic events that only a huge city can offer — with as many ethnicities and diverse groups as one can imagine. It was so moving to see groups like the Korean-American World War II vets, along with so many young people,  march in honor of the fallen.  Many of these young people are already in uniform, enrolled in various ROTC and Junior ROTC programs. They were marching together with pride, and that is a great portrait of America as a nation. — past, present, and future.