THE HOLIDAY we celebrate Monday began in the South after the Civil War when graves of both Confederate and Union soldiers were decorated. We can imagine widows, fatherless children, parents who lost sons and veterans taking part in what surely was a sacred ceremony. Decoration Day evolved into Memorial Day, an official U.S. holiday on the last Monday in May, honoring the dead of all wars.
While veterans' groups and others continue to sponsor Memorial Day services at local cemeteries, often with the playing of "Taps" and rifle salutes, the parades that were once fixtures in many towns around the area have become a thing of the past. The holiday has further evolved into a time to decorate all graves and remember all loved ones who have passed on, whether they died defending our country or from natural causes.
AS WE are now in the 21st century, however, much of the solemn tradition associated with the holiday has been forgotten by many. As the vast majority of our veterans grow older, fewer are left to provide the focus.
Unfortunately, Memorial Day has become little more than the unofficial beginning of summer. Too many people utilize the holiday as nothing more than a break from the fast, hectic pace of today's world. Indeed, such breaks are vitally needed given the stress, pressures and expanding work loads people find themselves under today.
But we believe everyone should take the time to get in touch with the true meaning of the holiday, even if that only means flying an American flag from one's porch and pausing for a moment to consider its significance.
Occasions such as Memorial Day and Veterans Day seem to have lost some of their meaning in our society. But we need to remember these holidays and the blood that was shed to allow our country to remain free.
We should remember everyone who built this country into what it is today. If we do not, we will lose part of America's soul.