Memorial Day reminds us that we must never forget

Published 9:21 am Monday, May 27, 2019

Memorial Day will be celebrated Monday all across this land. It is a holiday, but it is also a day that marks the unofficial start of summer. There will be outings to the swimming pool, water parks, and the lake.
As we have fun, let’s not forget the real reason for the holiday. Memorial Day is dedicated to honoring the men and women who have died in combat while serving in the U.S. Military.
The observance originally began following the end of the Civil War in 1865 and was called Decoration Day. After World War I Memorial Day evolved to commemorate those who died in all wars and officially became a federal holiday in 1971.
From 1775 through today more than one million U.S. servicemembers have died while serving their country. Roughly 1,264,000 American soldiers have died in the nation’s wars — 620,000 in the Civil War and 644,000 in all other conflicts. It was only as recently as the Vietnam War that the amount of American deaths in foreign wars eclipsed the number who died in the Civil War.
A recent poll suggests that barely more than one quarter of Americans understand the reason behind Memorial Day. For many, Memorial Day has become another three-day weekend to have fun. It apparently has lost some of its original meaning and purpose.
That’s unforgivable. Even far fewer do much of anything to personally recognize it. The holiday on Monday, May 27, 2019 will sadly be no different.
Some display flags or place wreaths on graves, but many, many more plan picnics, open their pools or enjoy other events that signify the unofficial start of summer.
This weekend, take a walk downtown to the Elizabethton War Memorial. Read the names on the black granite markers — men who have given their lives while serving their country on the battlefield. Walk across the street to the Wall of Honor and read the names of the men and women from Carter County, who have served their country in the military. Let it be a reminder that our freedom has never been freed.
There are no other countries in the world in which citizens have so many rights and freedoms guaranteed.
Memorial Day is set aside to remember those who have laid down their lives for all the citizens of America, those who paid the ultimate price to protect and ensure the freedoms that we enjoy.
The holiday originally began as Decoration Day. The first observance occurred at Arlington National Cemetery on May 30, 1868. The first service was a procession through the graves that involved placing flowers and American flags on each grave to remember the soldiers lost.
This service also was accompanied by the singing of hymns and songs. Some communities still observe the holiday in this way.
We never want to forget the sacrifices made by our soldiers. So, on this Memorial Day however you choose to observe the holiday, remember freedom isn’t free. Thank you to our military and their families for your service and sacrifice. We will remember you this Memorial Day and every day.
Memorial Day reminds us that we must never forget.

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