By JOE MANCHIN

CHARLESTON -- Military service has been important in the Mountain State because of our proud history of serving this country.

One visit to the state Capitol Complex War Memorial or a visit to any of our state's historic towns will give anyone a better understanding of how our state's residents have always answered the call of duty.

If you are a West Virginian, it is very likely that you know individuals who have enlisted in the military. Our citizens have logged many years of service, we have done the heavy-lifting, and we have never complained.

I have always said West Virginia is one of the most patriotic states in the Union. We have lost more people to war, shed more blood and labored for freedom more so than any other state. Memorial Day is one of our country's most important holidays because it gives us the opportunity to pause and honor those brave men and women in uniform who have made the ultimate sacrifice.

In May, hundreds of motorcyclists, most of whom are former war veterans, participate in the "Run for the Wall" annual cross-country motorcycle tour to honor our fallen soldiers. As part of the tour, the group stopped in Charleston before reaching their final destination in Washington, D.C.

As governor, I am pleased that so many people are willing to show their patriotism and support for our fallen war heroes by taking part in this ride of honor.

Historians have traced the origin of Memorial Day back to the American Civil War and it is documented that more than a million American service members have died in wars and conflicts throughout the course of our nation's history.

I would like our citizens to take time this Memorial Day to imagine what our country would be like if it were not for the sacrifices and service of our men and women in uniform. We would not enjoy the quality of life that we have today or the principles that we hold dear -– freedom, honor and independence.

Memorial Day is a time for all Americans to honor our nation's soldiers -– those who are fallen, those on active duty overseas and all Veterans. We truly appreciate the sacrifices that have been made from our soldiers and their families.

As you spend time with loved ones and friends this Memorial Day weekend, please take a moment to reflect upon its significance and keep the people who we have lost in your thoughts. We salute the service and sacrifice that our deceased servicemen and women, Prisoners of War and Missing in Action have given us.

Manchin is West Virginia's governor.

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