The calendar tells us that the Memorial Day weekend is upon is, although with the exception of a few days this spring, the cool and wet weather has not been a harbinger of warmth and sunshine.
But for Americans of all ages, the holiday weekend, despite the temperature reading, symbolizes the start of the summer season, and most of us will celebrate it appropriately with traditional family gatherings and barbecues.
However, amidst our festivities, we should not forget that Memorial Day is America’s most solemn national holiday, marking our national tribute to those who made the Supreme Sacrifice for our country.
Memorial Day initially was observed on May 30 and was known as Decoration Day, in an era before the turn of the 20th Century, when the Northern states paid tribute to the Union soldiers, who gave their lives to preserve America as we know it, by decorating their graves that were a past of the landscape of every Northern city and village.
However, the new century soon brought with it wars, seemingly every generation, that would give new meaning to the words Supreme Sacrifice. Starting with the Spanish-American War in 1898, American blood was shed in WWI, WWII, Korea, Vietnam, the Gulf War, and then Iraq and Afghaistan.
Although history has been less than kind in judging the wisdom by our policy makers of involving us in many of these conflicts, what is behind dispute is that in every war to which we have sent our young men and women, they have performed with courage and patriotism in the belief that they were serving the best interests of our nation.
It is these brave Americans, who gave “the last full measure,” whom we honor on Memorial Day.
So as we enjoy the long holiday weekend with friends and family, let each of us resolve to take a moment — if not longer — to thank those who gave their lives that we might be able to enjoy the freedoms that make America the greatest nation on earth.