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AMERICA’S gratitude to the men and women who gave their lives to protect our nation is genuine, though our emotional connection to Memorial Day has eroded.

Fewer and fewer people enlist and serve in the military, so the broad, common experience shared by earlier generations has frayed.

Here is a suggestion from The National Moment of Remembrance, which promotes a minute of silence to remember and honor those who have died in service to our country.

All Americans are urged to pause wherever they are at 3 p.m. local time on Memorial Day to give thanks. A simple, elegant expression.

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This Memorial Day is grabbing more headlines as the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs draws fire over allegations that patients died while waiting for treatment. The number of VA hospitals under scrutiny has climbed from 10 to more than two dozen.

President Obama has a fundamental management problem on his hands. The VA has grown far beyond the existing structure of the organization.

A steady stream of new clientele has fed the system from wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. Aging veterans from World War II, Korea and Vietnam continue to receive care, as veterans from later conflicts have their own physical and mental issues that demand attention.

An obvious target for the frustration is Veteran Affairs Secretary Eric Shinseki. Administration critics on Capitol Hill are demanding he be fired and replaced. Obama, for now, is not headed in that direction.

Veteran groups have had an interesting response or, at least, perspective. Jon Soltz, chairman of, said he wanted a real investigation, not a witch-hunt.

An Iraq veteran, Soltz noted in a statement that some of the loudest voices often are the same people, “who voted against better funding for the Department of Veterans Affairs just three short months ago.”

Honorable service must be respected with promises kept for care and treatment. Modern wars stir controversy, but brave men and women answered the call and went to where political leaders sent them. They did not start the fights.

They made the repeated deployments to Iraq and Afghanistan. The least we can do is pay for their safe, healthy return to civilian life and help sustain their well-being.

Editorial board members are editorial page editor Kate Riley, Frank A. Blethen, Ryan Blethen, Sharon Pian Chan, Lance Dickie, Jonathan Martin, Erik Smith, Thanh Tan, William K. Blethen (emeritus) and Robert C. Blethen (emeritus).

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