Everything Bremerton: Memorial Day is about more than barbecues

The average American views Memorial Day weekend as the official kick-off to summer. While this may be true in a physical sense, the true meaning of Memorial Day tends to become forgotten and lost amongst the barbecues, neighborhood gatherings and family camping trips systematically shoved into three short days. In our frantic, fast-paced modern lives the appeal of an extra day without work becomes our sole focus. We allow the pressure of what we need to do to enjoy the extra day overcome any thought as to why the holiday is even in existence in the first place.

The roots of Memorial Day, or Decoration Day as it was originally called, rests in a handful of years following the Civil War. Some states immediately recognized the day while others did not and wanted their own days of honoring those who had died in battle. The war may have been declared officially over but the bickering between states relentlessly continued. After World War I the meaning of the day was modified from honoring those who had died in the Civil War to honoring all individuals who had died fighting in any war. The official day was modified again in 1971 for the practical purposes of government when Congress passed the “National Holiday Act” and the official holiday was set to the last Monday in May.

The true meaning and traditional practice of observing Memorial Day had diminished over the years to such a point that the White House took notice and on May 2, 2000, President Clinton issued a memorandum for a “National Moment of Remembrance” to occur at 3 p.m. on Memorial Day. It asks for all of America to pause, reflect and give thanks and remembrance to those who made the ultimate sacrifice for our continued freedom.

While I certainly hope that all of you enjoy the coming weekend and the fun activities it brings with it, such as the Kitsap Harbor Festival at the Bremerton Marina or watching the Indianapolis 500, I ask that you join with me to honor the 3 p.m. reflection period on Monday to just pause, honor and respect the sacrifices made on our nations behalf by its service members.

Have a safe and enjoyable weekend everyone.

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