Memorial Day is traditionally seen as the launchpad for summer. But take time today to remember the real meaning of this holiday.
The day was originally established as a way to remember the Civil War dead, those who fought on both sides of the terrible conflict. That war was being waged 150 years ago today.
Around 620,000 American soldiers died during that war, more than all other U.S. wars combined. It's a sobering statistic.
This should be a somber day, or at least part of it.
Take time to reflect on the sacrifices made on your behalf by those who fought for your freedom. Fly a U.S. flag. Visit a cemetery. Even better, take your children to a Memorial Day service today.
The Indiana Welcome Center in Hammond, just off Kennedy Avenue south of the Borman Expressway, is open 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. today with a Civil War exhibit that helps put that war in perspective for the region. If you've seen the Civil War exhibit already, it's worth a return trip. New materials from the Indiana Historical Society joined the display on Friday.
In Valparaiso, the city's seventh annual Memorial Day Concert will be held 2 p.m. to 3 p.m. today at the Memorial Opera House, 104 Indiana Ave. Admission is free, but guests are asked to bring nonperishable items for the Christian Food Pantry. The performance will feature patriotic music by the Valparaiso Community University Concert Band, audience sing-alongs and historical narratives.
The Memorial Opera House is itself a monument to the Civil War, having been built by the Grand Army of the Republic, a veterans organization, after the war.
The holiday isn't just about the Civil War, though.
American Legion posts and other veterans organizations throughout the region planned a number of Memorial Day ceremonies throughout the weekend to honor Americans who fought for their country in all armed conflicts.
Whatever you do today, show your respect for the brave American men and women who served their country. Their graves are a reminder of the price paid on your behalf.