During my childhood, Memorial Day signaled the unofficial start of summer. I never thought much about the holiday’s deeper meaning. Enjoying a day off from school seemed significant enough.
In the aftermath of the Civil War, Major General John A. Logan issued General Order 11. It designated May 30 as Decoration Day to honor fallen soldiers. Arlington Cemetery hosted the first major observance in 1868. The annual event grew into a national holiday.
Today our nation observes Memorial Day on the last Monday of May. The holiday honors military personnel who have died during wartime. Parades, speeches, flags, and cemetery floral arrangements mark the occasion.
We remember the men and women who have given their lives in the service of their country. We also honor armed forces’ personnel who presently serve at home or abroad. Our liberties come at a high cost, and we recognize those who lay aside self-interest for their country’s sake.
We recognize military families who make their own sacrifices. Each member of the Army, Air Force, Navy, Marines, Coast Guard, Reserves, and National Guard leaves behind a family at home. Our service personnel wear a uniform; but parents, siblings, spouses, children, and friends support them on the home front.
This weekend fly the flag. Take your hat off when the National Anthem plays. Recite the words of the Pledge of Allegiance in a strong voice. Express your appreciation to a veteran. Visit a cemetery. Place a flower arrangement. Say a prayer.
Remember, and give thanks.