U.S. veterans, dead and alive, deserve our gratitude and support on Memorial Day — and every day

Monday, May 30 is Memorial Day, and an opportunity to hail the brave military men and women who gave up their lives so we can live freely, and whose bodies are buried in nearly every graveyard in the country.

They are the avengers of our founding ideals of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. Their supreme sacrifices have made the U.S. the greatest force for freedom and security in all of history. Their memories shape our present and mold our future.

Yet our sinking national appreciation is a blow to their selflessness: Memorial Day parades are dwindling, our flag etiquette is in shreds, the graves of war heroes have been left to rot at many cemeteries, and spongers are given more consideration on Capitol Hill, as military pay raises and housing stipends shrink, and even the military commissary benefit is under fire.

American soldiers — many of whom return home desolate, limbless shells of their former selves — are dying of delays at cash-strapped Veterans Administration hospitals, or being made into charity cases while Congress squanders taxpayer money on ungrateful, uncooperative nations: When Pfc. Cody J. Patterson, Sgt. Patrick C. Hawkins, 1st Lt. Jennifer M. Moreno, and Special Agent Joseph M. Peters died defending their country in Afghanistan in Oct. 2013, their selfish bosses at the Department of Defense — the world’s mightiest military agency with a nearly $600 billion defense budget — refused to cough up even a cent for their funerals or for death benefits to their grieving families during the government shutdown, until a public outcry embarrassed them into restoring the payments.

Ordinary Americans have answered — and volunteered for — the call of duty to become extraordinary human shields on the front lines since the nation’s formation, and we remain eternally in their debt for securing and advancing our national stability, abundance, and economic health while making the American Dream possible for you and me.

On Memorial Day let their valiant service count in every home, school, institution, and community because America would be just another problem nation, instead of the greatest one ever, without her battlefield bravehearts.

Follow me on Twitter @BritShavana

Read Shavana Abruzzo’s column every Friday on BrooklynDaily.com. E-mail here at sabruzzo@cnglocal.com.

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