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Lest We Forget
Remember veterans on Memorial Day
50 flags
The American Legion Flags float was the All-Around first place winner of the Ellinwood After Harvest Festival Parade on Saturday. - photo by Susan Thacker/Great Bend Tribune

The last Monday in May is Memorial Day in the U.S.A., a national holiday that commemorates the men and women who died while in the military service of their country. It is a time to remember our loved ones, especially those who lost their lives for their country.

Originally known as Decoration Day, the observance originated in the years following the Civil War, which ended in 1865. notes that the Civil War claimed more lives than any conflict in U.S. history and required the establishment of the country’s first national cemeteries.

By the late 1860s, Americans in various towns and cities had begun holding springtime tributes to these countless fallen soldiers, decorating their graves with flowers and reciting prayers.

Historians believe one of the earliest commemorations was organized by recently freed slaves in Charleston, South Carolina, on  May 1, 1865.

In 1966, President Lyndon Johnson declared Waterloo, New York, as the “official” birthplace of Memorial Day. A proclamation signed by Gov. Nelson Rockefeller said the place was the “first, formal, complete, well-planned, village-wide observance of a day entirely dedicated to honoring the war dead.”

This weekend will mean many things to each of us, but it is always a time to remember. Helen Keller said, “So long as the memory of certain beloved friends lives in my heart, I shall say that life is good.”

John F. Kennedy suggested it may also be a time to act: “As we express our gratitude, we must never forget that the highest appreciation is not to utter words but to live by them.”