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May 26, 2013

OUR VIEW: Putting memorial back in Memorial Day

What does Memorial Day mean to you?

Picnics and playing in the park? Hitting the pool for opening day? Not having to work on Monday?

For many, Memorial Day is the unofficial first day of summer, though the calendar might say June 21. But that’s not what it is supposed to be.

Some history.

Memorial Day, originally called Decoration Day, was a day set aside to honor those who died preserving the Union in the Civil War. It was first observed on May 30, 1868. It was called Decoration Day because it was a day of decorating graves of dead soldiers with flowers.

It’s these roots that the Memorial Day Foundation wants our nation to return to, and has been increasing awareness and respect for Memorial Day since 2000 to accomplish that goal. The group’s stated belief is “Memorial Day has been ignored by too many of us who are beneficiaries of those who have sacrificed their lives for our freedom and liberty.”

In 2000, the National Moment of Remembrance was created by President Bill Clinton. This annual 1-minute pause is to be observed at 3 p.m. (local time) on Memorial Day. In that minute, the foundation urges, remember and reflect on the sacrifices made to provide freedom for all — for you. Take the minute to honor the true meaning of the day and to pay respects to those who laid down their lives so that you may go free.

There’s much to be respectful of.

Some statistics.

Since our country’s inception, more than 42 million American men and women have served in time of war, according to the Department of Defense.

More than a million died for their country.

These are sacrifices that need to be remembered and honored.

If you’re now asking yourself how you go about doing that, here’s some ideas from the Memorial Day Foundation:

• By visiting cemeteries and placing flags or flowers on the graves of our fallen heroes.

• By flying the U.S. Flag at half-staff until noon. Memorial Day is a day of “National Mourning.”

• By attending religious services of your choice.

• By visiting memorials.

• By participating in a “National Moment of Remembrance” at 3 p.m. local time, to pause and think upon the meaning of the day and for taps to be played where possible.

• By renewing a pledge to aid the widows, and orphans of our fallen dead, and to aid the disabled veterans.

We encourage you to take some time out of your festivities Monday and do at least one of these.

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