IT’S a shame.

There were not enough volunteers to do the Hermitage Memorial Day Parade.

Pause and think about that for a moment.

There were not enough volunteers to take time out of their Memorial Day activities to honor the men and women who died to make their freedom, and their holiday, possible.

We take it back. It is not a shame. It is a sign.

We all need to think a little bit more about what Memorial Day is supposed to be all about.

The good news is that there are other Memorial Day activities. The Mercer Memorial Day 500 is still being planned as well as the Shenango Valley Memorial Day Parade.

There will be places for all of us to go to pay our respects. And we should.

Here is why it is especially important for Mercer County residents to pay special attention to Memorial Day.

There are a great many heroes here — and we are losing them.

Over the last couple of years, we have said goodbye to many of the men who were there on D-Day and who served in World War II. Some of them were even on the beach on that fateful day when Americans faced overwhelming odds and took their stand. It is amazing how many of those who served in that war actually lived right here in this county.

We wish we had been able to tell you all their stories. The truth is it is actually hard to get heroes, and Medal of Honor and Purple Heart recipients from any war, to tell you about what they did. It was not about glory. It was what men of honor did.

They think the heroes are the ones who never made it home.

And while we talk about the Greatest Generation, there were other heroes, too, across all the wars and battles. And we should be a bit ashamed as a nation that we did not welcome them all home with the respect they deserved.

It takes a special kind of person to answer the call for his or her country. And it is a sacrifice, even if he or she does not see actual combat. Soldiers, sailors, airmen and Marines risk their lives for freedom — and to stand for those who cannot stand for themselves.

The people they protect and the countries they liberate, they remember.

Every year, in France, on D-Day, Normandy remembers. Even 75 years later.

And we should, too.

The Hickory VFW should be proud that it has taken the leadership position for so long, and not ashamed at all that it was not able to organize a parade this year. Members did the best they could.

They should not have had to come up with volunteers among their members. The community should have stepped in to help.

Maybe there can be a new tradition. A community like Hermitage and the surrounding townships could come up with a new way to honor those who gave their lives in service to their country — and start a new tradition, with the first invitations going to the members of the Hickory VFW. It could be a way to thank the post and its members for making sure we all remembered what freedom costs.

So while there might not be a parade this year, there will be a chance still to remember.

If you cannot make one of the Memorial Day activities, take a tour around America’s Cemetery and look at the memorials there. Or check out the stories of this year’s Mercer Memorial Day 500 honorees.

Those who serve do not ask for your thanks. That’s not why they wear the uniform.

They just want all of us to remember the sacrifices that have been made, the comrades in arms who did not make it home.

Doing that shows that we understand just how much of a gift so many have given. And that we acknowledge that their families gave, too.

Memorial Day is about honoring those who gave their lives for us.

Taking the time to raise a flag, to think about those sacrifices, and to tell our children about their stories — that is how we pay our respects.