Writer and composer David Vader once said that, “The story of America’s quest for freedom is inscribed on her history in the blood of her patriots.”

Each year at this time it has long been our custom to gather and honor our nation’s sons and daughters who have given their blood, indeed their very lives, to a high cause greater than themselves: that of human freedom.

This Memorial Day will be a little different. As the state and communities continue to work to lessen the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, many of the familiar and traditional events and ceremonies around the state have been canceled or significantly scaled back.

But, regardless, we will still pay homage to those who have laid down their lives for our great country throughout the course of history.

From our War of Independence to the Civil War and World War II, from the First World War to Vietnam, from Korea to Iraq and Afghanistan, time and again Americans have found themselves standing against the evil forces of oppression and tyranny. And time and again, they have risen to the challenge because the freedom we have and hold so dear is worth fighting for, and worth dying for.

On the lawn of the Wyoming State Museum, in the shadow of the Wyoming State Capitol in Cheyenne, stands the Wyoming Fallen Warriors Memorial. The inscription reads, “Wyoming Remembers — Dedicated to the many soldiers, sailors, Marines, Airmen and Coast Guardsmen and their families from Wyoming who made the ultimate sacrifice while in the service of our state and nation.”

Even though we may not be able to gather as we normally would, citizens across Wyoming and this great country will find ways to remember, pay tribute and give thanks to those who have made such great sacrifices on our behalf. Flags will fly on residential streets, glasses will be raised, and some tears will be shed. We must always remember that our freedom is not free. Freedom carries a very high price.

And it is worth paying. As Rudyard Kipling noted so eloquently “All we have of freedom, all we use or know – This our fathers bought for us long and long ago.”

There is no doubt we have our troubles today. But I, for one, feel blessed to live in this wonderful country and am thankful for the glorious freedoms and rights that every American is guaranteed – life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.

And I am thankful to the countless men and women who have given so much, many that last full measure of devotion, to pay for the freedom we all enjoy.

In the book of John, Jesus said that, “Greater love has no man than this, that he lay his life down for his friend.”

It is right that we, as free people, pause to take stock of that price on Memorial Day, and honor the memories of those who have paid it for us – those selfless heroes who have laid down their lives for us and something greater then themselves. Wyoming indeed remembers.

Travis Deti is Chairman of the Wyoming Veterans Commission.