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It is the soldier, not the reporter who has given us the freedom of the press. It is the soldier, not the poet, who has given us the freedom of speech. It is the soldier, not the campus organizer, who gives us the freedom to demonstrate. It is the soldier who salutes the flag, who serves beneath the flag, and whose coffin is draped by the flag, who allows the protester to burn the flag.

~ Father Dennis Edward O'Brien, USMC

We were saddened last week to hear of the death of a hero.

Maj. Walter David Gray, 39, the father of three small children, paid the ultimate sacrifice for each one of us and our families; he was killed in Afghanistan not by an enemy soldier but by a coward suicide bomber.

Maj. Gray grew up on the Rockdale/Walton County line on Miller Bottom Road.

Pete Mecca wrote a moving story about a celebration of life for Maj. Gray. See to read that story and visit to see video of the candlelight vigil honoring Gray.

It takes a special person to be willing to go in harm's way in order to put their life on the line to protect people who are known and unknown; that's the type of character that's not taught - it's inbred.

We are sorry that Maj. Gray had to leave us so early. He was brave and way too young.

But every minute that we breathe, we are grateful that we have soldiers like him posted in every world frontier spending nearly every minute of their lives on alert to protect you and your family from the type of cowards who took Maj. Gray's life.

We salute you, Maj. Gray. Every time we look at our flag, we will think of you and the millions of others like you who have paid the ultimate price for our freedom.

The Loganville High school class of 1992 has set up a special fund for Maj. Gray's children. Call (770) 883-5893 for details. We encourage you to contribute to their future.