You may not know it but the national observance of Memorial Day started just after the War Between the States. It was originally known as Decoration Day, an attempt to help heal our divided country in the wake of a savage Civil War, and pay tribute to those who paid the ultimate sacrifice. While it was not declared a national holiday until the ’70s, when America was embroiled in the Vietnam War, Memorial Day has been part of our consciousness for a long time.
“We do not know one promise these men made, one pledge they gave, one word they spoke; but we do know they summed up and perfected, by one supreme act, the highest virtues of men and citizens. For love of country they accepted death, and thus resolved all doubts, and made immortal their patriotism and their virtue.” – James A. Garfield
May 30, 1868 Arlington National Cemetery
Over the years I have written about it. The solemnity of the occasion is significant, and really should demand every American’s attention. Sadly, that is not always the case.
Our nation’s first responders – those who routinely run into rather than out of harm’s way – are special people. They are military, law enforcement and fire-rescue personnel who put their lives on the line daily to serve the needs of complete strangers.
Rarely do they request, or for that matter receive, proper recognition. However, without these courageous men and women, these dedicated professionals acting as they have for generations, our lives would undoubtedly be very different.
A single day out of the year, we honor those public servants who’ve died in the line of duty. Seems shallow in comparison to the contributions they make to every American.
Think about it: When they go to their job, their families understand it may be the last time they’ll ever see them again. Not many of us can ever say that. Where would we be without them?
Memorial Day marks the beginning of summer. We celebrate with barbecue, baseball and the annual running of the Indianapolis 500.
But I urge you to remember the real reason for the season, and to hold dear the true meaning of this important observance.
May God Bless our brave first responders this Memorial Day, and every day.
President and CEO
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