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A day to reflect and celebrate: in that order

By Isaac Stewart

Intern

  

Officially named the unofficial kickoff for summer, Memorial Day is right around the corner. Or is it the unofficial official kickoff? Either way, it’s time for summer to begin.

Memorial Day is when the outdoors is filled with everyone who has been cooped up all winter long and can finally enjoy summer. Boats are taken out onto lakes, grills are fired up once more, and families and friends come together to have a blast.

But Memorial Day is a US federal holiday remembering those that have lost their lives while in the armed forces. So, amid all of the fun and activities involved in the holiday, it remains essential to recognize why the country can enjoy such liberties.

To memorialize those who gave their lives, Americans have many ways of honoring them. A popular way is visiting cemeteries and placing flags or flowers on the graves of the fallen heroes. Events are held like parades, ceremonies, and even reenactments, all of which anyone is welcome to participate in.

One of the simplest ways, and sometimes the most meaningful, is just thanking today’s veterans for their service. Paying for their meal at a restaurant or writing them a card. Flying the flag at half-mast is another widely adopted commemorative practice, and many lowered flags can be seen on the day.

When asked about Memorial Day, John Wayne Jeffries of Mountain City, a Vietnam veteran, said, “It is more important to me than Christmas.” 

Obviously, someone with Jeffries’ history would treat Memorial Day a bit more seriously than others, but the valuable lesson is still there to be taught through his actions.

“On Memorial Day, I wouldn’t even come out of the house out of respect for my guys,” said Jeffries, referring to those he fought alongside who lost their lives.

The annual observance should be much more than just a holiday where everyone gets the day off. It should, above that, be the day where we take the time to honor those who fought for their country.