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Our View: Memorial Day carries a solemn meaning

For many, this weekend will include barbecues, family picnics, days spent enjoying the unofficial start of summer and an extra day off to recuperate.

Among all this, it can be easy to forget the true meaning of the “holiday” we recognize Monday. It is one that should be revered and respected as it honors those who lost their lives to protect ours.

Memorial Day is a U.S. federal holiday remembering and recognizing people who died while serving in the armed forces.

While we should always show respect to our veterans, Memorial Day carries a different meaning than Veterans Day, which honors all past and present servicemen and women. Memorial Day is about honoring and thanking those who made the ultimate sacrifice.

The holiday, which is observed every year on the last Monday of May, originated as Decoration Day after the American Civil War in 1868. Separate events marking the day were commemorated for either Union or Confederate soldiers. Eventually, the holiday expanded to honor all Americans who lost their lives in service.

It gained unofficial acceptance as Memorial Day after World War II. The name we use today was made official in 1967.

Fifty years later, the poignancy of the holiday remains.

This weekend, and particularly on Monday, don’t forget to pause and reflect on the great sacrifices made for our country, our way of life, our freedom and our protection.

Remember the men and women who answered the call to serve in our armed forces, but did not make it home. Also keep in your thoughts the families and loved ones they left behind.

Perhaps take the time to place a flag on the grave of a fallen soldier at a local cemetery — there are many.

The true meaning of Memorial Day is much too significant to be treated as just another day off work. This year, take the time to honor these American heroes in prayer, in word or in deed.