To the editor:

This Memorial Day, I give pause to say thanks to all the men and women who served, are serving, or have paid the ultimate sacrifice to free the oppressed and to preserve our cherished liberties and freedom.

This year, as a family, we proudly recognize one of our own, our first-born son Michael, Jr., who is currently serving in Afghanistan on a 13-month deployment.

Like so many others, his decision to join the Army and serve his country was his own. His record prior to enlisting was filled with hard work and dedication, through the Naval Sea Cadet Program, high school and on through college.

His response to my asking why was he choosing to go into the Army, a five-year commitment with a guarantee that he was most probably going to serve in Iraq or Afghanistan, was "because I would like to give back to my country."

I remember how scared, in shock, mad and outraged he was, as we all were, when our country was under terrorist attack on Sept. 11, 2001. Michael was away at school and called us frantically to make sure the rest of his family was OK and that his Godmother, who worked in the twin towers of New York's World Trade Center, made it out safely.

This was the moment that I think he became aware of exactly what he wanted to do when he finished school.

Following 9/11, I remember there were pictures of towns and cities all across this country where every building was flying Old Glory ... the unity in pride and patriotism we felt was as real as the threat we faced then and still face today.

Let us never forget or let our guard down. This Memorial Day, 10 years later we celebrate the demise of Osama bin Laden, a testament to our fortitude and steadfast conviction of this proud nation and everyone who serves to protect her.

We will not sleep, we will not rest, we still stand firm as a soldier, American citizen and nation to protect our country and continue to pursue those that threaten her.

Thank you, Michael, and thank you to all those serving. Know that you are always in our hearts. Stay safe and God bless you.

To those that have served and those that have paid the ultimate sacrifice, our heartfelt thanks are beyond description.

MICHAEL SARGENT

and the Sargent family

South Street, Rockport

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