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Today is Memorial Day, a day set aside since 1868 to honor and remember our nation's veterans.
Then it was called Decoration Day and was established by an organization of Union veterans called the Grand Army of the Republic.
The first observance was held at Arlington National Cemetery, where officials including Gen. Ulysses S. Grant presided over ceremonies. Children from the Soldiers' and Sailors' Orphan Home and members of GAR made their way through the cemetery reciting prayers and singing hymns while putting flowers on Union and Confederate graves.
From that early observance, Decoration Day led way to Memorial Day, which was declared a national holiday by Congress in 1971 and is celebrated the last Monday in May. This day, and days preceding it, Americans celebrate and honor the fallen men and women who have served our country in the Army, Navy, Marine Corps, Air Force and Coast Guard in times of need and war.
Many groups, including the American Legion and Veterans of Foreign Wars, and the public, will visit cemeteries today to pay their respects and remember. Remember the sacrifices they made, the lives America has lost to ensure our freedoms are upheld and we can live in a nation where our voices are heard.
But don't remember our veterans only today, remember them every day. Think of them when you see the red, white and blue flying over buildings, when you see people helping others, when you practice the religion of your choice and when you read this editorial and other opinions. Without the freedoms brought forth by what our military has given up, none of this would be possible.
In December 2000, Congress passed the National Moment of Remembrance Act, creating the White House Commission on the National Moment of Remembrance. The charter is to "encourage the people of the United States to give something back to their country, which provides them so much freedom and opportunity by encouraging and coordinating commemorations in the United States of Memorial Day and the National Moment of Remembrance."
So at 3 p.m. today, have a moment of silence to remember and honor those who have given the ultimate sacrifice for our nation.
It's the least we can do to remember and respect the veterans of our past, present and future.
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