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This is Governor John Baldacci.

On this Memorial Day Weekend, it’s important that we pause to pay tribute to the memory and sacrifice of military men and women who have died in service to the United States.

All across this great country, communities are rallying to honor the fallen heroes who gave their lives in defense of liberty, justice and freedom.

In far away places with names that will ring through history – places like Normandy and Que Son, the Chosin Reservoir and Kabul – military men and women have died while in service to America’s ideals.

They have left behind – generation after generation – grieving families and a grateful nation.

On Wednesday, I visited the Maine Veterans’ Memorial Cemetery in Augusta. A law passed last year created a new fund to provide American flags for veterans’ graves.

Veterans’ groups and other volunteers will begin placing the flags this weekend in observance of Memorial Day on Monday.

It’s a solemn memorial that reminds us that the cost of war is high.

Unfortunately, our fighting isn’t over.

As we celebrate Memorial Day this long weekend with family and friends, we should also remember the thousands of men and women who are serving at home and overseas.

Members of the Maine Army National Guard and the Air National Guard are deployed in Iraq and Afghanistan, and throughout the Middle East and Europe.

We also learned this week that Bravo Company of the 172nd Infantry, which is based in Brewer, will be called on to be deployed in 2010. While the date seems far away, the preparations have already begun.

It’s my prayer that we can find peace before they go off to war.

Whether they are deployed on a combat mission or called upon during a natural disaster like the recent flooding in Aroostook County, I am inspired by the dedication, professionalism and commitment of our National Guard soldiers and airmen.

They endure hardships most of us could not - and would not suffer through separation from families and friends. And to the person, they do it without complaint and with pride.

During this time of war, I have talked to too many families who have lost a son, brother, father or friend in Iraq or Afghanistan.

And each death is a terrible loss.

In the past year, the small town of Lee, Maine, was touched twice by the tragedy of war.

On June 23, Sgt. Joel House was killed in Iraq and just five months later, Corporal Blair Emery was killed while serving in Iraq.

The people of Lee have paid a heavy price. But if there is comfort to be found in such difficult times, it is the way the community and those two families came together to support one another.

I will be thinking of them this weekend and all of those who have been lost in Iraq and Afghanistan.

On Memorial Day, flags will be lowered around Maine until Noon, in honor and tribute to America’s fallen soldiers. Then the flags will be raised to the top of the staff until sunset, in honor of our country’s war heroes.

As long as there is war or people who wish to harm the United States of America, Maine’s roll of honor will grow.

This weekend, it is our duty to honor the men and women who have served our country and those who continue to serve today.

We hold them and their families close to our hearts, and pray for their safe return home and an end to war.

Thank you.

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