Our View: Remembering them then, now and forever
This Sierra Sun Memorial Day editorial hasn’t changed much from the one we ran two years ago, except for the numbers ” 1,646 and 3,426. The former is the number of our men and women who had been killed in Iraq in May 2005. The latter is how many have died as of May 27, 2007.
As was the case then, a three-day weekend is upon us here in the Sierra. After a cold winter, sun and blue sky are finally greeting us on a consistent basis.
The holiday weekend means the good times of summer are ahead ” boats, beaches, bathing suits and barbecues.
But as the new season kicks off, we all should pause for a moment and remember why this “holiday” weekend exists, and why, with members of our armed forces now dying in far-off war zones, this public holiday is called Memorial Day.
Decoration Day started as a day to remember the Union soldiers who died during the Civil War by decorating their graves. It was later renamed Memorial Day, with the idea of recognizing all fallen soldiers of any conflict. After World War II, Memorial Day became the common name for the holiday. Finally, some 30 years ago, the day was made a federal holiday to be observed on the last Monday in May.
Before it became a federal holiday ” and a three-day weekend ” Memorial Day was observed on May 30. The holiday’s true torch bearers, however, worry that the three-day weekend has made it easier for people to be distracted from the spirit and meaning of the day.
We tend to agree, especially at a time when our soldiers are dying in Iraq and Afghanistan. When it comes down to Iraq, it’s not a matter of supporting the invasion of that country and the subsequent occupation or not, it’s about recognizing the 3,426 service members who have died during Operation Iraqi Freedom and the 387 who’ve been killed in Afghanistan.
To get close to what this weekend means, go to http://projects.washingtonpost.com/fallen/ to see the names and faces that go with the faceless statistics.
No matter how you chose to observe the holiday, be it flying Old Glory, laying a flower on a fallen soldier’s grave or just taking a moment to reflect, remembrance is what this weekend is truly about.
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