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On This Memorial Day 2005

Sometimes the list is short, just one or two names; not much bigger than a newspaper correction box. Sometimes, on some days, the list is longer.

I try to read it when I can, the list of the war dead. Men and sometimes women I have never met fighting and dying for the freedom of others. What a noble sacrifice. What a priceless investment.

Some are so young — they always are — barely old enough to vote.

Others are in their 30s with families to whom they will never return.

I go down the list — Senior Airman Jason Plight, age 21, Lansing, Mich.; Sgt. Orlando Morales, 33, Puerto Rico; Sgt. Brian McGinnis, 23, Delaware; Spc. Brandon Rowe, 20, Illinois.

There are innocent Iraqi and Afghan dead, too, but these are our boys and young men.

This Memorial Day we honor them and many others like them who now and in previous wars and conflicts have given the last full measure of devotion for a noble principal and a higher cause than self.

As that patriotic anthem says: "Oh beautiful for heroes proved in liberating strife. Who more than self their country loved and mercy more than life!"

The Scriptures say, "Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends."

On this Memorial Day 2005, those of us who celebrate and benefit from freedom salute those who fight and die for it.

It is a high price they pay, but they know the cost of slavery is greater. Thanks soldiers, sailors, Air Force and Marines. God bless America!

And that's Column One for this week.

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Cal Thomas is America's most widely syndicated op-ed columnist. He joined Fox News Channel in 1997 as a political contributor. His latest book is "What Works: Common Sense Solutions for a Stronger America" is available in bookstores now. Readers may email Cal Thomas at tcaeditors@tribune.com.