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Springville Journal editorial: In celebration of Decoration Day

SPRINGVILLE — Springville’s Relay for Life will swing back into town on June 8, right on the heels of Memorial Day, one of our country’s dates to pay homage to its fallen heroes.

Yet, Memorial Day has been turned, by many, into a conveniently-scheduled long weekend, in which to sunbathe, swim, grill out, shop the sales and vacation with family. While we all appreciate the odd day off of work, many seem to have forgotten why this holiday is so important.

During the years following the United States Civil War, Americans, who were sensitive to the lives that had been so recently lost, began memorializing their fallen soldiers, on their own. They eventually lobbied for a day of remembrance and Decoration Day was born.

Numerous communities, who had independently hosted grave-decorating ceremonies and prayer times, encouraged Americans, across the country, to join with them in thanking those who had given the ultimate sacrifice.

On the first Decoration Day, thousands of people turned out, to adorn the graves of 20,000 Civil War soldiers’ lying in Arlington National Cemetery. Interestingly, these Americans united, to decorate both Union and Confederate soldiers’ final resting places.

While Memorial Day originally commemorated the Civil War’s fallen, it was later changed, to include all of the United States’ departed soldiers.

Somewhere along the way, so many people lost sight of the holiday’s true meaning and started looking forward to Memorial Day, as a time of rest and personal relaxation. But the families of soldiers who have lost their lives see this day differently.

They see Memorial Day as the chance to say thank you, to a person they loved, for giving his or her life in defense of freedom. They see it as the chance to grieve and to take a moment to quietly remember the person they will never see again.

As our communities celebrate Memorial Day, take a moment, to offer thanks for our freedom, which we owe to these brave men and women.

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