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Memorial Day 2011

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A South Marion Citizen editorial

This weekend is one of the most solemn on the American calendar, as we celebrate Memorial Day on Monday, this year falling on the traditional date of May 30.

Hardly any American family can trace its history without finding that it was touched somehow by what Memorial Day marks, the loss of American lives in war.

Across the nation, we honor those who died fighting to preserve our freedom, whether it be long ago or in the more recent years.

As opposed to Veterans Day, which is in November and honors all those who served, living and dead, Memorial Day, or Decoration Day as it was once called, is strictly to remember those who made the ultimate sacrifice.

The observance started shortly after the Civil War, and until after World War I was generally to honor those killed in the war between the states. Then it took on new meaning to include all those who died in battle in service of their country.

When Congress changed various holidays to create three-day weekends, some people felt that this resulted in diminishing the meaning of Memorial Day. To date, there are various groups fighting to restore it to May 30, instead of just saying it’s the last Monday in May. That, of course, is not a problem this year.

Our late military personnel deserved to be remembered. On this Memorial Day, let us put aside some time to recall why it’s a holiday in the first place.

Starting in the year 2000, the National Moment of Remembrance was established, asking everyone for a minute of silence “or listening to ‘Taps’” at exactly 3 p.m. local time.

There’s nothing wrong with family gatherings, barbecues and picnics, but taking a little bit of time to remember why we’re there is not only honoring the service personnel, but teaching our young people the meaning of the day.

If you know of someone who has lost a relative, even years ago, remember to include them, because the pain of a loss such as that never goes completely away.

So enjoy your weekend, be safe, fly your flag (half staff on Monday until noon) and remember those who paid the final price.