“But in a larger sense, we cannot dedicate, we cannot consecrate, we cannot hallow this ground. The brave men, living and dead, who struggled here, have consecrated it far above our poor power to add or detract.”

As we remember Abraham Lincoln’s words from his famous Gettysburg address, we are reminded that the Memorial Day holiday should be a time of reflection.

Freedom is not free, as Lincoln’s words delivered four months after a battle that marked the turning point in the Civil War remind us.

Three days of brutal fighting resulted in 38,000 combined casualties in Union and Confederate armies.

This battle and others in that tragic conflict, however, resulted in freedom from slavery for black Americans.

Thus it has been in our history. Many generations of Americans have sacrificed for the freedoms our nation enjoys.

Perhaps nowhere is this sacrifice by our military more exemplified than by Gen. George Washington’s dramatic victory at Trenton, N.J., during the darkest days of the American Revolution.

History records that as Washington’s army marched through the snow toward Trenton, many of them, without boots, had only rags wrapped around their feet. Bloody footprints marked their line of march through the white snow.

Their sacrifice and perseverance during the Revolutionary War was the first payment on our nation’s freedom.

Succeeding generations in all branches of our armed forces have paid similar installments toward maintaining that freedom.

We hope all our readers will reflect on and cherish these sacrifices so in Lincoln’s words, “that government of the people, by the people, for the people shall not perish from the earth.”

Happy Memorial Day.

– Editor’s note: This editorial was first published in the Daily News on May 31, 2010.

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