Take time for true meaning of Memorial Day

IT SEEMED AT TIMES that it would never arrive, but summer is imminent. According to the calendar, the season doesn’t officially arrive until Saturday, June 21.

But according to most people, and unofficial calendars, the upcoming Memorial Day weekend is the start of summer.

If schools aren’t already out – like most colleges – the end of the school year is not more than a week or two away for most students.

The summer vacation season is beginning for most workers and families, with plans afoot for trips, family gatherings and other fun times.

Grills will be fired up over the weekend as people celebrate the first three-day weekend of the summer.

But there’s a reason why it’s a three-day weekend – a reason that should not be forgotten.

Memorial Day comes Monday, the annual commemoration of those who gave their lives in service to this great nation over the past two centuries-plus.

It began around the end of the Civil War as Decoration Day, a day when the graves of the recently fallen in America’s bloodiest war – the war that reaffirmed that this nation would endure as one – were decorated to memorialize and commemorate the dead.

It soon expanded into a commemoration of all those who had paid the ultimate sacrifice in all of our nation’s war – whether to establish or preserve our freedoms.

It was originally celebrated on May 31 every year, but beginning in

1971 it was switched to the final Monday in May to create an annual three-day weekend.

Some may say that the creation of the threeday weekend for Memorial Day took away from the meaning and significance of the holiday, but judging by the number of ceremonies, parades, commemorations and other events that are scheduled in Sheboygan County and across the nation for the holiday weekend, it doesn’t seem to have diminished in meaning.

However, Memorial Day is only as meaningful and significant as we make it, each and every one of us.

There is nothing wrong with enjoying a long holiday weekend - especially if the weather cooperates – and taking advantage of the opportunities it offers for fun, relaxation and good times.

But amidst all of that, we need to remember why Monday is a holiday, why this is a three-day weekend for all, and the purpose of the day.

It doesn’t take much time out of a busy and fun weekend to attend one of the many commemorations of Memorial Day, to remember and honor those who gave their lives to ensure that we can continue to enjoy all the good things that will make it this weekend and our daily lives.

As Abraham Lincoln put it so eloquently in his Gettysburg Address, the men and women we will honor next Monday “gave the last full measure of devotion” to preserve and protect our freedom and way of life.

It is only fitting and proper that we take just a little time out of our busy holiday weekend to say thanks and honor their memories.

At issue:
Holiday weekend
Bottom line:
Include remembrance

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