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For those who sacrificed all -Preserving liberty and freedom

-Photo by Jeffry Boatright

By Jeffry Boatright

Memorial Day, for many, is associated with the commencement of summer. We welcome the holiday weekend as it ushers in fragrances of blossoming flowers and the aroma of a backyard grill. The anticipation of a delightful, fun-filled break from school, along with the aroma of food, infiltrates the atmosphere.

Memorial Day, however, is much more than the pleasurable activities and charming gatherings to which we have grown accustomed. It is a day set aside for the fundamental purpose of commemorating our fallen soldiers who cannot celebrate the day with us. Originally established as Decoration Day to honor the Confederate and Union soldiers who died in the Civil War, the annual day of commemoration has evolved into what we know as Memorial Day. Today, the special day is reserved to honor those who have died in all American wars.

Terry Fillyaw of Luraville fully understands the significance of the federal holiday. Having served in the U.S. Navy, Fillyaw acknowledged that he will certainly be thinking with great appreciation of those who serve in our military today.

“Having lost a great friend in the Middle East, I will certainly be mindful of those who made the ultimate sacrifice and their families who must go on with their lives without them,” Fillyaw added. “I’ll be wearing red, white and blue and take time to watch a couple of good movies, Lone Survivor and American Sniper, at home with my family.”

Although we cannot speak directly to, or hear from those who we commemorate on such a distinctive day, it is probably reasonable to assume they would desire that we Americans honor them by celebrating the day with joyous activities. After all, they did perish in effort to preserve freedom and liberty.

It is unfathomable to consider the estimates of over one million war- related American deaths, but sadly, it is real. Many, if not most, American families have lost immediate family members, relatives, friends or loved ones as a result of battle and war-related death.

At least half of America’s war-related deaths resulted from the Civil War. It is no wonder that Decoration Day, the forerunner of Veterans Day, was established in 1868, just three years after that dreadful war that divided America.

According to the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs website, the original date for observing Decoration Day was May 30. It is believed, according to VA historical information, that date was chosen because flowers all across the country would be in full blossom. Following the speeches during that initial ceremony, in which Ulysses S. Grant presided, it is conveyed that children went about Arlington National Cemetery, strewing flowers on the graves of both Union and Confederate soldiers while reciting prayers and singing hymns.

There have been subsequent wars and conflicts, escalating American casualties. Most died abroad, but we know that many somehow managed to conceal their wounds within, returned home and succumbed on American soil.

Finally, Memorial Day was declared a national holiday in 1971, and the last Monday in May has been set aside to observe the federal holiday, which is still occasionally referred to as Decoration Day. Nearly three decades later, The National Moment of Remembrance Act was passed and signed into law to insure the sacrifices of America’s fallen heroes are never forgotten.

Perhaps the significance of Memorial Day increases as we mature. For some surviving family members, that significance becomes very real at an early age. It affects each of us differently and we have the liberty to choose how we observe Memorial Day. Americans are, however, encouraged by The National Moment of Remembrance to pause wherever we are on Memorial Day at 3 p.m., local time. We are simply asked to pause for a minute of silence to remember and honor those who have died in service to the nation.