Freedom isn't free.

It's only possible because of the fallen heroes who have paid its high price, Sons of the American Legion East Area Vice Commander Chris Casey reminded a crowd gathered during a Memorial Day ceremony Monday at the Blair Cemetery.

“A price paid which enables us to have ceremonies and observances like this one and in communities across our great nation,” he said.

Memorial Day - Blair

Sons of the American Legion East Area Vice Commander Chris Casey gives the address Monday during a Memorial Day ceremony at the Blair Cemetery.

Next week, the world will mark the 75th anniversary of D-Day, the invasion of Normandy. Thousands of Allied heroes will be honored for paying the ultimate sacrifice to liberate Europe.

The remembrance should serve as a reminder, Casey said, that as Americans we should be unified.

“Labels that we hurl today like Democrat and Republican, red state and blue state, matter little when facing mines and machine gun fire while charging a beach,” he said. “Politics are irrelevant to a family who hears the words, 'We regret to inform you.'”

From the American Revolution to the current operations against terrorism, 1 million American men and women have made the supreme sacrifice while serving in wars and conflicts, Casey said.

“We honor all of them — not just those with the highest medals or the heroes that fought in the most famous battles,” he said. “They all died so we can continue to cherish the things we love — freedom, country and family.”

Americans remember those fallen, not out of an edict or obligatory ritual, but because “we want to,” Casey said.

Memorial Day - Blair

Deb Wehrli, left, and Michael Ward stand as members of the VFW Post 1251 color guard Monday during a Memorial Day ceremony at the Blair Cemetery.

An important part of honoring the fallen is supporting their families, he said.

“Long after the battlefield guns have been silenced and the bombs stop exploding, the children of our fallen warriors will still be missing a parent; spouses will continue to miss their life partners; parents will never stop grieving for their heroic sons and daughters that died way too early,” he said.

And Americans should be there for all of the families.

“Nobody can replace these fallen heroes, especially in the eyes of their families,” he said. “But we can offer shoulders to cry on and assurances that their loved ones' sacrifices would not be forgotten.”

Blair American Legion Post 154 Commander Steve Rounds also spoke at the ceremony. Members of the Post 154 American Legion Auxiliary placed a wreath on the monument honoring Civil War soldiers in honor of all military men and women who gave the great sacrifice.

Memorial Day - Blair

Blair VFW Post 1251 fires the gun salute Monday during a Memorial Day service at the Blair Cemetery.

The Blair VFW Post 1251 honor guard fired a salute, while VFW Commander Denny Webb played taps.

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