“If silence is ever golden, it must be here beside the graves of fifteen thousand men, whose lives were more significant than speech, and whose death was a poem, the music of which can never be sung.” Then Ohio Congressman James A. Garfield began his speech in Arlington Cemetery on May 30, 1868, to honor fallen soldiers for the first Memorial Day service—then known as Decoration Day.

For many of us, Memorial Day helps mark the opening of summer. We get to fire up our grills, perhaps for the first time since last year. Some might enjoy their first dip in the pool or a trip to the lake. It’s a time to gather with friends and family to celebrate the warm weather, but it’s also much more than that.

Memorial Day began as a way to honor fallen soldiers of the Civil War, though many southern states did not adopt the holiday until after World War I. The holiday is not set aside for any specific battle or chain of events. It is celebrated in memory of all our service men and women who laid down their lives to protect our liberties.

Some have even expanded upon the holiday to commemorate the deaths of law enforcement officers and first responders who died in the line of duty protecting their fellow Americans. Whatever your reason for celebrating this year, take pause to remember those who lost their lives defending and protecting your freedoms to celebrate.

Remember the veterans who are still with us today, many of whom are spending the day saluting their brothers or sisters in battle who paid the ultimate sacrifice. Also, in the words of American Legion Post Commander Philip Terry, be the deserving citizen who honors our nations fallen heroes who died for our freedom.

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