Memorial Day is not just a three-day vacation | Editorial

Those bright orange poppies springing up along the side of the road ought to serve as a reminder.

Here’s another.

Memorial Day is Monday. The American Legion Post 93, the American Legion Auxiliary and the Sons of the American Legion will hold a Memorial Service, 11 a.m. at the Mt. Baker Ceremony. “Taps” will be played on trumpet and the Honor Guard will fire 21 rounds in a tribute to the fallen.

Poppies will be distributed by the local American Legion Auxiliary in honor of those who have sacrificed their lives for the country. They are made by disabled veterans; all contributions for the poppies are used for local veterans in need and their families

The origins of Memorial Day are firmly rooted in this country’s brutal struggle to ensure that all its citizens benefit from one of the nation’s most basic founding principles … freedom. But as the human cost of just the Civil War shows, the price paid to defend and assert those freedoms has hardly been for free.

The first recorded observance of what’s evolved into Memorial Day, according to Yale history professor David Blight, came as a result of freed slaves paying respects to fallen Union soldiers in Charleston, in 1866. That solemn gesture of honor and respect would later become known as Decoration Day, when graves of servicemen were decorated, speeches were made, remembrances were uttered and heads were bowed.

After World War II, Congress voted to change the traditional observance of what had been Decoration Day from May 30 to the last Monday in May, creating a three-day weekend.

In the San Juans, Memorial Day is often thought of as the unofficial start to the summer season. For many, it’s a day of freedom from work and an opportunity to stoke up the barbecue or just simply to relax.

Memorial Day may mean different things to different people, but we encourage every islander not to forget its true spirit – it’s a day for remembrance.