For most of us, Memorial Day means the beginning of summer and it’s time to plan for family visits and high school graduations. Memorial Day brings family outings, barbecues, the Indianapolis 500 and a much-anticipated three-day federal holiday weekend.
That’s all good, but we should never forget those fun-filled, lighthearted and exciting events are not the real reason for the holiday we celebrate next Monday, May 27.
Memorial Day is actually much more somber as we pause to recognize the ultimate sacrifice of every soldier who died defending the United States in every war the country has ever fought.
All across our great land, American flags will decorate the graves of veterans, and many citizens will remember the contribution made by those who gave everything to preserve and protect the freedoms we enjoy today.
World War II began almost 80 years ago, so the veterans from that war are elderly. The United States lost more than 400,000 warriors in that conflict.
The Korean War began almost 70 years ago, and the United States lost more than 36,000 soldiers in that war.
The Vietnam War lasted 20 years from 1955 to 1975, although most of us remember the war from the late 1960s and early 1970s. More than 58,000 Americans lost their lives there.
In the War in Afghanistan 2,216 Americans died and 4,497 were lost in the Iraq War.
Since 1775, 1.4 million Americans have died defending our nation and our freedom. Memorial Day is the time we remember those who lost their lives defending us. We appreciate their sacrifices, and they were not in vain.
Veterans organizations will hold Memorial Day ceremonies at many cemeteries, including those in Susanville. We encourage you to take a few minutes to attend one of these ceremonies and get a fuller experience and understanding of the holiday’s true meaning.
Generally, the ceremonies are brief but moving and some even include three volleys of seven rounds — the highest honor the nation can render to its fallen warfighters. Attending such an event will leave you feeling patriotic and still give you time to spend the rest of the day involved in more festive pursuits.
Local celebrations by the Veterans of Foreign Wars include a memorial service and a 21-gun salute at 7 a.m. at the Susanville Cemetery, another ceremony about 8 a.m. at the Lassen Cemetery on Chestnut Street and a 11 a.m. ceremony at Diamond Crest Cemetery. All times are tentative and subject to change.
For more information on Memorial Day events, call the Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 2381 at 251-8192.
Be sure to enjoy yourself, your family and your outings on this three-day holiday weekend that kicks off the summer season, but don’t forget Memorial Day is also the day we remember those who lost their lives defending our precious American way of life.
Memorial Day is the day we say thank you to all those brave men and women who made the ultimate sacrifice for each and every one of us.
May God bless America and our fallen heroes.
Have a happy Memorial Day.