Many mark Memorial Day weekend as the unofficial start of summer.
For many, Memorial Day weekend 2021 marks a time of great liberation. For more than a year, scores of us have been unable to load up the car and visit relatives or gather with friends because of constraints surrounding the pandemic. The vaccine and softening CDC guidelines are bringing a new sense of freedom to travel and to regain a semblance of normalcy.
It's understandable that people want to get together, have fun and try and put all of the stresses of life in a pandemic on the back burner — if at least for a few days.
But we must never forgot the true reason for Memorial Day.
The holiday was born in the wake of national carnage that was the Civil War, in which upwards of 700,000 Americans died fighting each other between 1861 and 1865.
Formerly known as Decoration Day, it wasn't recognized as a federal holiday until 1971.
And since then, despite the revelry associated with the holiday weekend, Memorial Day is a time to remember those who have paid the ultimate price for our freedoms and ideals.
Cities and towns across the Region, state and country hold parades along main streets and memorials at cemeteries for those brave men and women who gave their lives serving our great country.
Many attend those commemorations.
Died defending freedom
Perhaps this year, with everything our country has been through, even more people may be compelled to take time out from the holiday weekend to stop and reflect.
We have known what it's like to have a loss of freedom in one way or the other. Many have experienced deep loss since the start of the pandemic.
As Ronald Reagan said during his time as governor of California, "Freedom is a fragile thing, and it's never more than one generation away from extinction."
Since the founding of the United States, hundreds of thousands have died defending our freedoms from the Revolutionary War to the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.
So many lives have been cut short to protect the values we hold so dear.
Reflect on those great sacrifices.
It's the least we can do for those who gave the most.