The price of freedom

Published 7:13 pm Monday, May 28, 2012

One of our nation’s most painful periods of history — the Civil War — gave rise to a holiday meant to honor and remember those soldiers, sailors, airmen and marines who gave all they had for our country.

According to the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, the day initially called “Decoration Day” was established on May 5, 1868, as a time for the nation to honor the dead from the Civil War with flowers. Two years earlier, right after the end of the war, communities throughout the then-smaller nation began local observances, and today about two dozen towns claim to be the birthplace of Memorial Day.

The nation would be involved in several more wars and conflicts before Congress would officially declare Memorial Day a national holiday in 1971.

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Unfortunately, these days, it is as little more than the official beginning of summer, a day off from work and school, a day to gather with friends and family and have a cookout with little, if any, thought to the more than 1.1 million men and women who have given their lives for this country since the Revolutionary War began.

There’s nothing wrong with seeing friends and family on a holiday, or with taking pleasure in a day off. And surely, nothing one could do on a single day would repay the debt owed to even a single one of those men and women.

But when Memorial Day comes around, it is important to remember, whether that’s done by visiting a cemetery, volunteering in your community or simply remembering the veterans in the blessing for the food at your cookout.

Taking a little time to remember is a small price to pay for the sacrifice others made for your freedom.