Memorial Day should be one of the most revered days of the year in the United States, but sadly, for many Americans it has become nothing more than just another excuse for a three-day weekend.
Somewhere along the way, the day set aside to honor fallen soldiers has turned into a day of leisure for the rest of us.
It's shameful, really.
The men and women who fought and died for their country so the rest of us can enjoy a picnic in peace deserve better.
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In May 1966, President Lyndon Johnson officially declared Waterloo, N.Y., the birthplace of Memorial Day, but the holiday's origins began long before then.
Throughout America's history, communities have honored their war dead in a variety of ways until the last Monday in May was declared by Congress to be the official day of observance.
That official recognition should have made it more meaningful, not less. Something has gone wrong.
Memorial Day isn't the Fourth of July, where it is appropriate to celebrate America's independence with fireworks, fun and fanfare. Memorial Day is also different from Veteran's Day where all veterans are honored for their service.
Memorial Day is a solemn holiday. Its very title dictates a sense of somber reverence. Yet, many people seem to have forgotten that as they make plans for a nice, long weekend.
Fortunately, there are still people who care and try to do things right. Those who have lost loved ones in war surely will honor their memories. Volunteers around the country will put flags on graves. Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts will help with Memorial Day services in their communities. Taps will be played and flags will be lowered to half-staff.
But it is a small percentage of Americans who will pay attention to all that. Most have plans for the holiday that do not have anything to do with honoring the dead.
There will be Memorial Day shopping sales and camping trips and barbecues and spring cleaning and yard sales, and on it goes.
School children will accept they have a day off from school, but won't truly understand why, if all they are doing is having a fun time with family.
Somehow, Americans need to do a better job of remembering what Memorial Day is really about.
At some point over the three-day weekend, at least stop and think about the wars that have been fought and the lives that have been lost and reflect a bit on how fortunate America is to have had such brave men and women willing to die for their country.
For once, try to honor Memorial Day properly. The sacrifice is too great to be taken for granted.