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Editorial: Remember Memorial Day has a purpose

Memorial Day is aptly named, as it is a day to remember those men and women who gave their life in the service of the United States.

There is no greater sacrifice than one who gives their life for of their country.

Americans -- young and old -- have gathered in communities around the country since 1868 to honor and remember those individuals who have made this ultimate sacrifice.

Soldiers from our region killed in recent years include:

* Pfc. Ryane G. Clark, 22, of New London, died Oct. 4, 2010, in Shekhabad, Afghanistan, serving with the 27th Combat Engineer Battalion (Airborne), 20th Combat Engineer Brigade, U.S. Army;

* Sgt. Kurt E. Kruize, a Hancock graduate and a St. Cloud resident , died April 4, 2010, in a noncombat accident while serving in Iraq with the 367th Engineering Battalion, U.S. Army.

* Spc. James Wertish, 20, of Olivia, died July 16, 2009, in Basrah, Iraq, serving with the 34th Military Police Company of the 34th Infantry Division;

* Sgt. Matthew Ryan Kahler, 29, Granite Falls, died Jan. 26, 2008, in Waygul, Afghanistan, while serving with 2nd Battalion, 503rd Infantry, U.S. Army.

* Sgt. Joshua Schmit, 26, of Willmar, died April 14, 2007, in Fallujah, Iraq, serving with the 1451st Transportation Company, U.S. Army;

* Staff Sgt. Kevin M. Witte, 27, of Beardsley, died Oct. 20, 2006, in Baghdad, Iraq, serving with the 2nd Battalion, 6th Infantry Regiment, 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 1st Armored Division, Baumholder, Germany;

* Sgt. Kyle R. Miller, 19, of Bird Island and Willmar, died June 29, 2006, in Balad, Iraq, serving with the 1st Battalion, 125th Field Artillery;

* Sgt. Brent W. Koch, 22, of Morgan, died June 16, 2006, in Ad Diwaniyah, Iraq, serving with E Company, 2nd Combined Arms Battalion of the 135th Infantry;

* Staff Sgt. David Day, 25, of St. Louis Park and Morris, died Feb. 21, 2005, in Baghdad, serving with C Company, 1st Battalion, 151st Field Artillery;

* Sgt. Jesse M. Lhotka, 24, of Appleton, died Feb. 21, 2005, in Baghdad, serving with C Company, 1st Battalion, 151st Field Artillery;

* 1st Lt. Jason Timmerman, 24, Tracy, died Feb. 21, 2005, in Baghdad, serving with C Company, 1st Battalion, 151st Field Artillery.

The freedoms we, as Americans, enjoy today were earned and protected by these and others who have given their lives.

In respect and remembrance, we encourage all of you to attend a Memorial Day service Monday in your community. You may also join the National Moment of Remembrance at 3 p.m. local time Monday.

To all the veterans who have served, we thank you!

To each veteran who has sacrificed his or her life for our freedoms, we thank you.

Kelly Boldan

Kelly Boldan has been the editor of the West Central Tribune of Willmar, since joining the newspaper in October 2001. He has previously worked as the editor at the Bemidji Pioneer, also part of Forum Communications Co., and other daily newspapers, online Web sites, and weekly agriculture newspapers in Wisconsin, Texas and Minnesota. You can follow via Twitter at @KellyBoldanWCT or read about the Tribune's newsroom blog at: or the Tribune's blog at:

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