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Putting the ‘Memorial’ back into Memorial Day

By Elisabeth Altamirano-Smith/ Community Columnist

Living as an American civilian that does not participate in the military, Memorial Day can feel carefree and joyful. Grilling hotdogs and hamburgers, enjoying “Memorial Day Sales” at our favorite stores and enjoying a day at the lake have become common ways people “celebrate.” For anyone that hasn’t lived a military life, how to respond to this day can be somewhat of a mystery. However, for the families and friends of fallen soldiers killed during action, Memorial Day is a day to honor and mourn the passing of loved ones.

For their military comrades that witnessed their death and for family that wasn’t able to welcome them home, this weekend signifies the ultimate American sacrifice for freedom. American freedom was paid for by these soldiers so that all living in the United States may know the blessed taste of freedoms like speech and religion and the ultimate protection of “life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.”

In 2000, to ensure the sacrifices of America’s fallen heroes are never forgotten, Congress signed the “National Moment of Remembrance Act,” creating the National Moment of Remembrance. The act is meant to encourage the people of the United States to give something back to their country, which provides them freedom and opportunity. It also encourages Americans to pause on Memorial Day, wherever they are at 3 p.m. (their local time) for a minute of silence to remember and honor those who have died in service to the nation.

As with any passing of a loved one, death can be difficult to deal with. Unlike Veteran’s Day, the loved one isn’t there to be celebrated and their life was cut short by war. Instead of wishing someone a “Happy” Memorial Day- taking flowers to the cemetery, planting a tree or garden or participating in a favorite activity to remember them by are more appropriate ways to memorialize them.

Although the exact number of fallen heroes remains unknown, over one million American lives have been given for those living in the United States so that they might live without fear or torment for personal beliefs. However your family chooses to spend the freedoms of Memorial Day, at 3 p.m. take a minute of silence to remember all of the men and women who have made the ultimate sacrifice.

There is no greater love than to give up one’s life for a friend.