The Memorial Day weekend is upon us, a three-day weekend that for most Americans marks the start of the summer season. Many will celebrate appropriately with barbecues and outdoor activities with family and friends.
However, amidst our festivities, we should not forget that Memorial Day is America’s most solemn national holiday, marking our nation’s tribute to those who made the Supreme Sacrifice for our country.
Memorial Day initially was observed on May 30 and was known as Decoration Day, in an era before the turn of the 20th Century, when the Northern states paid tribute to the Union soldiers — who gave their lives to preserve America as we know it — by decorating their graves that were a part of the landscape of every Northern community.
However, the new century soon brought with it wars, seemingly every generation, that would give new meaning to the words Supreme Sacrifice. Starting with the Spanish-American War in 1898, American blood was shed on foreign soil in WWI, WWII, Korea, Vietnam, the Gulf War, and then Iraq and Afghanistan, not to mention other far-off places around the world.
Although history has been less than kind in judging the wisdom of our policy-makers in involving us in many of these conflicts, what is beyond dispute is that in every war to which we have sent our young men and women, they have performed with courage and patriotism in the belief that they were serving the best interests of our nation.
For those of us who have been spared the horrors of war, it is difficult, if not impossible, to appreciate the sacrifices that have been made on our behalf by those who served — and died — while wearing the uniform.
It is these brave Americans, who gave “the last full measure,” whom we honor on Memorial Day. Without their heroic efforts, we would not be writing this editorial — nor would you be reading it.
So as we enjoy the long holiday weekend with friends and family, let each of us resolve to take a moment — if not longer — to thank those who gave their lives in order that we might be able to enjoy the freedoms that make America the greatest nation on earth.