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Opinion

Memorial Day: History and Values

Sen. Gerald Dial

Memorial Day is a time for Americans to reconnect with their history and core values by honoring those who gave their lives for the ideals and freedom we cherish.

More than a million American service members have given their lives in wars and conflicts since the first Colonial soldier took up arms in 1775 to fight for Independence. Each soldier who died during those conflicts was a loved one cherished by family and friends, each was a loss to the community and the Nation.

The observance of this day was born out of compassion in 1863. In 1882 the nation observed the first official Memorial Day, as a day set aside by Congress, to remember and honor the sacrifice of those who died in all our wars.

For decades Memorial Day was a day in our Nation when stores closed and communities gathered together for a day of parades and colorful celebrations honoring our patriots. Memorial Day meant ceremonies at cemeteries around the country and speeches honoring those who sacrificed their lives.

In some places, Memorial Day ceremonies continue by remembering the true meaning of the day. Citizens gather to honor the dead and stand before Veteran’s parks to show their respect for their service to our country. They understand that on Memorial Day we honor the ideals and values those soldiers stood and died for so we can enjoy freedom today.

Sadly many Americans have lost this connection to their history, all too many Americans today view military service as an abstraction, an image seen on television or in the movies. For a growing percentage of American’s, Memorial Day has come to mean simply a three day weekend, vacation, or a shopping day. Families may still gather for picnics and days at the lake but for many the spirit of remembrance is absent.

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How will you show your loyalty to our Country and an appreciation to those who made the ultimate sacrifice? I hope you will take this time to remember those to whom we owe so much.

God Bless you and all those who have served this great country.

Gerald Dial is a Republican who served in the Alabama Senate from 2010 to 2018. He previously served in the Alabama House of Representatives from 1974 to 1982 and in the Alabama Senate from 1983 to 2006.

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