Don’t miss holiday’s significance

Memorial Day is regarded by many as the unofficial first day of summer as families break out picnic gear and swimwear, and parks officially open for their annual “march” toward Labor Day.

But don’t let this day pass without acknowledging the day’s most important meaning – taking time to remember the men and women who gave their lives while serving in this nation’s armed forces.

While all veterans of U.S. military service are honored during the observance of Veterans Day each Nov. 11, Memorial Day, formerly called Decoration Day, focuses on those who stepped forward to defend this country and lost their lives doing so.

Many people use the words “ultimate sacrifice” to appropriately describe that total giving of themselves, not only to defend this nation but also in working to defend others who lack the means to protect themselves.

Despite being a day to remember those who died while defending this country, people use the Memorial Day observance to also remember relatives and friends who have passed away – by planting flowers or placing wreaths on those graves.

Those colorful remembrances, combined with the American flags placed by municipalities or veterans organizations, provide a beautiful display of Americans’ appreciation, compassion and acknowledgment of what others have meant to their lives.

Before packing the car for a picnic or just using part of this holiday to catch up on rest or work around the house, area residents should step forward to honor the day by attending a parade steeped in the patriotism that is at the heart of this observance.

Bring an American flag, wave it proudly – but also leave a place in your heart for the solemnity that this day is due.

Today should not be merely a day off work for those who are employed in businesses that are not open for the holiday. Instead, with Memorial Day comes an opportunity – actually, what should be construed as an obligation – to in some way demonstrate love for this country.

The right Memorial Day advice is to make the most of this holiday but keep in mind what’s really important about it.

Amid the remembrances and fun, share the pride and joy in having the opportunity to live in such a wonderful nation, state and community.