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Memorial Day is time to show respect and reflect-Column By Senator Dorsey Ridley

Memorial Day is time to show respect and reflect-Column By Senator Dorsey Ridley

Bill Stephens

May 18th, 2018


FRANKFORT — Memorial Day is a time to remember those brave Americans who fought for our nation and its freedom. This national day of remembrance is especially close to our hearts this year as our young men and women are fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan for a safer America.

On May 28, we should show respect to today’s servicemen and women and those who have gone before by putting aside our differences in honor of their sacrifices. Without these heroes, the America we know and love would not be the symbol of freedom it is today.

Our job during wartime is to encourage young men and women to fight for our country, and one way to do that is to show them that the sacrifices of those who fought in past wars are not forgotten. As President George Washington once wrote, “The willingness of future generations to serve in our military will be directly dependent upon how we have treated those who have served in the past.”

Giving our veterans the thanks they deserve will indeed help us recruit the best and brightest individuals to fight for our country. With their abilities, we will be better equipped to avoid such tragedies as 9/11 in the future.

The true meaning of Memorial Day has been lost over the years. Today, most people think of the holiday not as a day of remembrance but as the start of summer. Memorial Day is when local pools open, families reunite for cookouts and the crack of the bat can be heard in every ballpark. For many it has become a day off work instead of a time of national, and personal, reflection.

Enjoying a day with family and friends is a great way to spend one’s time. But part of Memorial Day should be spent honoring those for whom it is meant–our fallen soldiers.

I would like to share a short history about this special holiday with you. Memorial Day was observed for the first time in 1868 as a way of remembering the Civil War dead. It was established by a group of soldiers who called the observance “Decoration Day.” On this day, families of fallen soldiers gathered in Arlington National Cemetery in Washington D.C. to hear solemn speeches and then lay flowers on both Union and Confederate graves as they sang hymns and said prayers.

After World War I, Congress designated a day to honor all U.S. soldiers who had lost their lives for their country. It was in 1971 that Memorial Day was officially declared a national holiday by Congress.

This Memorial Day weekend, each of us needs to set aside time to honor the men and women who gave their lives so we could be free. We need to spend time visiting veterans’ graves, replacing old flowers with new ones and sharing stories of their sacrifices so that younger generations can picture what life would have been like without these heroes.

These brave men and women will never be forgotten, and they will always hold a special place in our hearts.
Have a safe Memorial Day!

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