Memorial: serving to preserve remembrance; commemorative
As I pondered the upcoming Memorial Day weekend, I decided to explore this definition by referencing Merriam-Webster’s online dictionary. Once read, it occurred to me that many people will spend this special, three-day weekend to kick-off the summer season with barbeques and boating, and sunning and funning, without a thought or remembrance of what this significant holiday truly represents.
Don’t get me wrong, there is nothing wrong with enjoying ourselves over the extended holiday weekend. Yet, it’s important we remember and recognize the reason we have the liberties and freedoms we have to do all the things we love to do.
According to the Farmer’s Almanac, Memorial Day was officially established as a national holiday observed on the last Monday in May, by an act of Congress in 1971. However, the history of commemorating the brave men and women who lost their lives serving our great nation dates back as far as the Civil War. Citizens would take time to clean and decorate graves of fallen soldiers, friends and family members, in remembrance of their lives and sacrifices.
Many seniors celebrating Memorial Day, or Decoration Day, continue this tradition and often share the experience with their children and grandchildren in hopes they will respect and honor the real meaning of the day and carry-on the tradition.
When I was growing-up, each Memorial Day weekend my father and mother would drive my paternal grandmother, my siblings and me, to two rural cemeteries, where our family’s Veterans and deceased were buried. I remember pulling weeds and cleaning the headstones and military grave markers, carefully placing flags on the resting places of my great uncles who had served in various wars. We always brought floral saddles, wreaths and arrangements as a show of our love and respect.
I continue this tradition, to this day, and share it with my family. To me, it’s important we all consciously experience Memorial Day as it was intended, and fully understand the true reason for holiday.
If there are special seniors in your life, please try to include them in your Memorial Day celebrations, especially if you plan to visit area cemeteries and celebrations, because they have lived through tumultuous eras of depression, war and peace, and I’ve seen first-hand how genuinely thoughtful and reflective they are of their own traditions of honoring fallen Veterans, family members and friends.
Memorial Day ceremonies are held across the United States at VA and national cemeteries, thanks to the National Cemetery Administration. “Each cemetery and community will add their own special touch of patriotism and ‘thanks’ during the events.”
Here are several locations in our region of Florida where you can continue family traditions and pay your respect to our fallen heroes:
Bay Pines National Cemetery
10000 Bay Pines Blvd. North
St. Petersburg, FL 33708
Ceremony: May 28 at 10:00 a.m.
Florida National Cemetery
6502 SW 102nd Avenue
Bushnell, FL 33513
(352) 793-7740 or 1074
Ceremony: May 28 at 11:00 a.m.
Sarasota National Cemetery
9810 State Road 72
Sarasota, FL 34241
Ceremony: May 26 at 10:00 a.m.
Additionally, the City of Largo will host their annual Memorial Day Sunset Ceremony, complete with a color guard performance, music and wreath presentation, free and open to the public:
Memorial Day Sunset Ceremony
Central Park - Military Court of Honor
101 Central Park Dr
Largo, FL 33771
Ceremony: May 28 at 7:00 p.m
However you choose to celebrate Memorial Day weekend, I hope you will take time for remembrance. If it were not for the countless servicemen and women who lost their lives serving our country for well more than a century, chances are, we would not have the freedoms we have for barbequing and boating, sunning and funning.
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