My fellow reporters and I spent time this week compiling the list of parades, ceremonies and events which will be taking place this coming Monday in honor of Memorial Day.
Speaking to representatives from the local veterans organizations who have organized these many activities, I was reminded of this holiday’s true significance. Sadly, all too often we lose sight of the true meaning of this day.
Many people look at the upcoming three-day weekend as a chance to enjoy time outdoors and cookouts with family and friends as we celebrate the unofficial start of summer. The idea of Memorial Day conjures up visions of days at the beach, memories of family camping trips, the smell of hotdogs on a grill…
But, while you’re racing to pull those white shoes out of the back of your closet, don’t forget that there is more to it than that. The purpose of this holiday isn’t just an excuse for a long weekend; it is to honor those who have given their lives to secure the freedoms we enjoy as Americans.
The tradition of decorating the graves of those who have fallen so that we may live free dates back to the days following the Civil War. This tradition will be carried out on Monday by members of our many local veterans organizations.
While I haven’t decided which of the many local parades I’ll be attending, rest assured you’ll see me along the sidelines of at least one. I’ll be the one with plenty of tissues. Between the patriotic marching bands, veterans groups and fire departments involved, it’s virtually guaranteed that I’ll get emotional.
And now I’m off to the New York State Veterans Home in Oxford to meet some of their residents. We’ll be recognizing them for their service and sacrifice in Monday’s paper.
As the holiday weekend approaches, make sure you pull out your finest red, white and blue apparel, and don’t forget to take the time during your celebrations to thank those who throughout the years have made the ultimate sacrifice so that the rest of us may life free.