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Amid the backyard barbecues and trips to the beach today, let us not forget the true meaning behind Memorial Day. It's not an excuse for a sale, or the official beginning of summer; nor is it just another day off from work.
Celebrated since May 30, 1868, Memorial Day is a time to remember the men and women who have fought and died for our freedoms, in conflicts throughout history.
Maj. Gen. John A. Logan, head of a national veterans' organization, declared in 1868 that Americans should decorate graves of fallen soldiers “with the choicest flowers of springtime [and] guard their graves with sacred vigilance... Let pleasant paths invite the coming and going of reverent visitors and fond mourners. Let no neglect, no ravages of time, testify to the present or to the coming generations that we have forgotten as a people the cost of a free and undivided republic.”
We should heed Maj. Gen. Logan's call this and every year, and honor those who fought not only to protect our soil, but also for the ideals we hold dear.
Memorial Day is a time for the fallen, but also a day to lift our hearts in praise of the selfless and duty-bound few who gave their lives in the past and continue to put themselves in harm's way.
We build monuments as tribute to their sacrifice, but the greatest commendation is to keep their memories alive when enjoying the things they fought for, but can no longer enjoy.
The Athenian leader Pericles, writing about fallen heroes of the Peloponnesian War more than 2,400 years ago, said: "Not only are they commemorated by columns and inscriptions, but there dwells also an unwritten memorial of them, graven not on stone but in the hearts of men.”