Memorial Day will be marked by many with flags and flowers placed on graves in cemeteries, parades and public speeches. For many, this is a time to remember the cost of freedom. Others will think of it as a day off work to enjoy with family and friends.

All of us should direct our thoughts to the men and women of our military who gave their lives for the country they love. These are the men and women who were willing to serve, to leave their families and friends behind, to defend America and our way of life. It is not too much to ask that we honor them and all veterans on this Memorial Day.

To ensure that the sacrifices of America’s fallen heroes are never forgotten, Congress passed the “National Moment of Remembrance Act” in 2000 to encourage the people of the U.S. to give something back to their country, which provides them so much freedom and opportunity. The idea is that all Americans pause wherever they are at 3 p.m. local time on Memorial Day for a minute of silence to remember and honor those who have died in service to the nation. I urge you to take time at 3 p. m. to pray, remember and give thanks. A minute is not too much to ask.

As a saying sometimes attributed to Abraham Lincoln goes, “a nation that does not honor its heroes will not long endure.”

Tom Mortenson, Detroit Lakes, Minn.

LEGACIES

You don’t need to be ‘ultrarich’ to have a story to preserve

The writer of the May 23 article “Historians help ultrarich protect legacy” apparently didn’t know that the Association of Personal Historians (with headquarters here in Minneapolis — www.personalhistorians.org) can help the not-so-rich preserve their legacies, too. Andy Anderson of Wells Fargo, featured in the May 23 article, was a keynote speaker at our APH conference last fall. APH members are located throughout the U.S. and in 11 other countries, working with clients to produce memoirs, video biographies, photobooks, legacy letters, family heritage cookbooks, and school, church and community histories. We believe the value of a personal history (gaining a sense of where you came from, resolving generational conflicts, having value-based family conversations, accepting skeletons in the closet, etc.) applies to everyone.

Linda Coffin, Minneapolis

OBAMA IN JAPAN

We must seek (to understand) the elusive beginnings of conflict

President Obama’s visit to Hiroshima last week brings back memories of when my wife and I visited that city 30 years ago. The Peace Park indeed is a deeply moving experience. The museum in one section of the park carried a dramatic display of pictures of the leveling of the city, but with nothing about what prompted the American action. Visiting schoolchildren come away with a truncated view of the event. Where did the conflict begin? All too often we look back on finales, be they sad destructions or glorious triumphs, and we ignore the beginnings.

But where are the beginnings? For museums and for us as individuals, we need to supply them somehow. Hiroshima needs to be hyphenated with Pearl Harbor. But what prompted that cruel onslaught? How far back do we need to go to get at the “beginning” of Hiroshima? Historical events begin someplace. But where? Historians try to dig for the “real roots,” but it often becomes an endless search. In the name of coherence and structure, any historical narrative, any museum display, any vision in our consciousness has to begin someplace. But where?

J. Vernon Jensen, St. Paul

HEALTH CARE

Free market, yes! Government control and rationing, no!

Don Wright (“Don’t jeopardize my health to fix health care,” May 24) makes a personal case for the value of life. The summary for his article states that “life, even with a serious illness … is a marathon worth running.” He was reacting to a cost-benefit study of medical treatments. Age is one variable in the study, which is intended to assist making insurance coverage decisions.

A May 26 letter writer (“Resources are finite, so cost-benefit is the reality”) opposes Wright’s arguments by reminding us of the government’s limited health care resources He emphasizes the greater benefit of using limited dollars to treat a 20-year-old, compared with treating an 80-year-old.

Opponents of Obamacare were laughed at when warning against rationing health services and making dramatic references like “death panels” and “pulling grandma’s plug.” Gradually, hints of cost-benefit rationing have become common. Obama questioned whether his grandmother should have been given a knee replacement soon before dying. Former U.S. Sen. Tom Daschle and presidential advisers Dr. Ezekiel Emanuel and Dr. David Blumenthal have given subtle indications that they understood arguments favoring treatment of one demographic over another. Emanuel wrote: “By 75, creativity, originality and productivity are pretty much gone for the vast, vast majority of us.”

My friends, I don’t want my health decisions and funds controlled by the government! A free-market health system has flaws, but without it and our historic expectation of, willingness to pay for and insistence upon “medical miracles,” we wouldn’t have today’s “65-year-olds” being like the “50-year-olds” of a few decades ago.

Insist on free-market health care!

Steve Bakke, Edina

SERIALIZED BOOK

Based on my experience, this author will be worth your time

I’m pleased to see that the Star Tribune’s serialized book this summer will be “Stone Lake” by Richard Horberg (“Teacher revisits ‘Stone Lake’ in serial,” May 22; the series subsequently began Sunday). The first time I set foot in a college classroom was in September 1964 as a nervous freshman in Mr. Horberg’s Rhetoric 1 class. He and Bill Marchand taught me English composition in the Department of Rhetoric on the St. Paul campus of the University of Minnesota. That small department did such a fine job of teaching the basics of writing and public speaking as well as providing an introduction to the humanities.

Writing and appreciation for literature can be intimidating, but my fellow students and I all felt that our St. Paul campus instructors in those subjects cared about our progress and well-being. Writing never came easily to me, but all of sudden all of the lessons that my previous English teachers talked about came together during my freshman year on the St. Paul campus. Horberg and my other rhetoric instructors did a wonderful job of teaching the basics of writing while instilling a love of the humanities and literature.

Horberg’s dry wit and Woody-Allen-style humor, along with his references to literature as it applied to our writing, made for enjoyable classes. I remember once when he was explaining a particular point, he motioned with his hands and said, “Well, on the one hand, we have this, and on the other hand, we have … warts.” I don’t remember the context, but I had never heard that line before and found it particularly funny in our early-morning class. Another time, as an aside, he took a moment from his explanation of paragraph construction to explain the meaning of a line from T.S. Eliot’s “The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock” (“In the room the women come and go / Talking of Michelangelo.”).

The student-teacher relationship is probably the most important connection children make aside from their relationships with family members and childhood friends. I’m glad to see that the Star Tribune chooses to recognize this by publishing Horberg’s novel. At a time when motion pictures, television and video games dwell on fantasy, violence and catastrophe, it’s reassuring that your newspaper has chosen to publish a novel that talks about things that are far more relevant to everyday life. Congratulations, Mr. Horberg!

M.L. Kluznik, Mendota Heights