While summer won’t officially arrive for another few weeks, a lot of people get a start on it with the upcoming holiday weekend. A goodly percentage of folks will take to the road for Memorial Day weekend, to perhaps go camping or visit with friends; those who stay closer to home may opt to have a barbecue, or maybe go fishing or finish planting their gardens.

And sadly many of them – many millions won’t give why they have the holiday so much as a moment’s thought. Perhaps a brief history lesson is in order.

Memorial Day’s origins laid in the Civil War, with what was then known as Decoration Day, when the graves of soldiers who fell were decorated in tribute in the South. The day became known as Memorial Day by official proclamation in 1868, but it wasn’t until after the end of World War I that it became a holiday in all states. For more than fifty years, Memorial Day was held on May 31, until Congress changed the date of observance to the last Monday in May in 1971.

That change was made to give people a three day weekend. But over time, it also has changed how people think of Memorial Day. What once was meant to honor all Americans who died serving their country has become a day of party and play. Parades and the graveside services honoring veterans that once were a traditional part of Memorial Day are on the wane. Flags are not flown properly. And the graves of many veterans have fallen into disrepair. Such disrespect is just wrong. Without the selfless sacrifices of so many brave soldiers, this country would be a shadow of itself.

We don’t think anybody has an excuse to not honor the fallen during Memorial Day. At the very least, they should observe the National Moment of Remembrance, which will be held at 3 p.m. The Moment, established in 2000 by Congress, asks that all Americans pause in whatever they’re doing and think of those who died for this country. It’s such a simple thing to do: Observe the moment – and for at least that short period of time, don’ t think about your hamburgers on the grill, or getting another beer from the cooler, or packing as much fun as you can into what’s left of the long weekend.

Instead, remember. For, after all, that it what Memorial Day is all about.

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