Editor’s Note: Below are comments on the purpose and significance of Memorial Day from two of Erath County’s most prominent military veterans.

Kenny Weldon is of course the mayor of Stephenville – but he’s also a retired Air Force Colonel and Air Force Academy grad having put in 26 years in the service. In addition, he’s commandant of cadets at Tarleton State University and department head of military and strategic studies.

Army Lt. Colonel Marty Deckard is department head and professor of military science, and for all things related to the Reserve Officer Training Corps, or ROTC.

Here are their thoughts regarding Memorial Day:

Weldon: Memorial Day is a time of remembrance and hope. And it’s a message of love − love of country and love of others through personal sacrifice. Jesus said, “Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.”

Memorial Day is a day when every American should recognize that the freedoms we enjoy have been preserved at a cost. Men and women have given their lives to defend a cause greater than themselves, the preservation of freedom. Our freedom.

This day is a time when we should, with reverence, consider the fact that great Americans who were called Mother, Father, Husband, Wife, Son or Daughter left us too soon and in the words of President Lincoln gave the "last full measure" for each of us.

This Memorial Day, may we recognize that God has granted our nation blessings unmatched by any other country and that we owe a debt to fellow Americans we can never repay, those who gave their life to defend our freedom.

Deckard: Many American have forgotten the meaning, traditions and observance of Memorial Day. As Memorial Day approaches, it is a time to pause and reflect on the true meaning of this holiday.

Memorial Day is a national day of awareness to honor and remember the men and woman who died while defending our Nation.

The day begins as the flag of the United States is raised to the top of the flagpole and then solemnly lowered to half-staff, where it will remain until noon. Americans will spend the day wearing red poppies, visiting cemeteries to place flowers and flags on the graves of our fallen heroes and visiting memorials.

I encourage everyone to take time out of their holiday activities to pause for the National Moment of Remembrance held at 3 p.m. This is a time set aside to remember and reflect on the sacrifices of more than 1.8 million Americans who have given their lives in defense of this great nation.

These include the 34 US service members who have died supporting operations in Iraq and Afghanistan since last year’s Memorial Day.