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Editorial: Remember this on Memorial Day: Life is a gift

A lot of people were rubbed the wrong way when word leaked out that a White House aid had made the seemingly heartless, albeit truthful statement, that with regards to Republican Sen. John McCain's thumbs-down to the CIA director nominee, it "didn't matter because he was dying anyway."

It was a sickening statement on a man who had sacrificed so much for his country. He was a prisoner of war for six years in Vietnam who had chosen to endure torture rather than to be set free without his comrades, a man who has served honorably in the U.S. Senate for 32 years, choosing to vote his conscious rather than down party lines ... but to the woman who had so flippantly made this comment, he was irrelevant because he was dying of brain cancer.

But a sentiment that has since been regularly expressed in this war hero's defense is that "We're all dying, it's how you choose to live that matters." McCain has chosen to live his life for the betterment of his fellow Americans, and he is not alone. His stage has been bigger, his impact widespread, but there are so many of us who will be pausing this weekend to remember some great people in our own lives.

You don't have to change the entire world to be remembered and treasured, you just have to change the worlds of the people you love. Most of us have somebody who has gone before us who we could only hope to be like someday—people who sacrificed and worked and built and loved.

Those are people who don't necessarily need a special day of remembrance to be felt because they're there with us every day in our hearts and minds. They're the ones who will never be irrelevant—whose lives mean something both on Earth and beyond.

There are people who have undoubtedly sacrificed for those of us still left here, and perhaps they deserve more than just remembrance. They deserve our own determination to pay that forward—to make the lives of our own loved ones a little better and brighter. For them, we should live our lives not with the idea of unrealistic perfection, but with character and principles and meaning—and, like McCain, always with honor.

This weekend is about remembrance, yes, but let's not just remember those we loved, let's truly honor them by being the people that we know would have them smiling from above.

Paula Quam

Paula Quam is the editor for Forum Communications Co. newspapers in Detroit Lakes and Perham, both in Minnesota.

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