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Honoring those who paid the ultimate price

Christina Chizmadia, a 2014 Oxford High School graduate, plays Taps at Ridgelawn Memorial Cemetery as part of the community's Memorial Day observance. Standing at attention behind her is the Color Guard from Oxford American Legion Post 108. Photo by C.J. Carnacchio. (click for larger version)
May 28, 2014 - In 239 years, 1.2 million Americans have given their lives in 62 military conflicts.

"They came from all backgrounds for one purpose – to make safe a way of life that (they) felt was worth dying for," said Lake Orion resident Jim Hubbard, a Vietnam veteran who served in the U.S. Army from 1966-68 and is commander of North Oakland Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 334 based in Oxford.

That "way of life" included "their families, children, morality and a free country."

Hubbard was the keynote speaker at Oxford's Memorial Day observance held Monday morning in downtown's Centennial Park.

He's a war hero who received the Purple Heart, the Bronze Star with two oak leaf clusters and the Silver Star for his courage under fire and saving his comrades' lives.

"All too often our freedoms are taken for granted," Hubbard told the crowd. "A special day like this is set aside once a year to remind us to be grateful for the debt of honor we owe (fallen servicemen and women) for our freedoms and liberty. They gave their tomorrows for our todays."

He reminded everyone that sacrifice is "meaningless" without remembrance.

"They did not forget us, so we must take time to remember them," Hubbard said. "It is a good and noble thing to preserve the memory of our patriots."

It's hoped that remembering their courage, deeds and sacrifices will help forge a peaceful, brighter future, so today's children and grandchildren "never have to feel the sting of combat or witness the suffering of fallen soldiers or have to choose between (life and death) on the battlefield."

Hubbard also urged the crowd to never forget all those veterans who are dealing with post-traumatic stress disorder on a daily basis as a result of the horrors and suffering they witnessed and endured on battlefields across the globe.

"They need to know we care and greatly appreciate (the) sacrifices they made for our country," he said.

Following the ceremony in the park, Oxford's Memorial Day observance concluded at the veterans memorial in Ridgelawn Memorial Cemetery on W. Burdick St.

CJ Carnacchio is editor for The Oxford Leader. He lives in the Village of Oxford with his wife Connie and daughter Larissa. When he's not busy working on the newspaper, he enjoys cigars/pipes, Martinis/Scotch, hunting and fishing.
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