To many Americans, Memorial Day has lost meaning

Erica Roy
May 30, 2017

And while the long weekend is a great chance for us to spend the day with friends and loved ones in the great Wisconsin outdoors, it's important we remember the true meaning of this holiday.

"This is my first Memorial Day service since I retired and I don't know why I haven't come, but this is really emotional for me today", said Al Quist who attended the ceremony. During that ceremony, Vietnam War Veteran Jerry Paul spoke about honoring all US veterans, including a group he said people sometimes forget: women. Their sacrifice, most often at an early age before they could enjoy a family and a career, occurred around the world. In many cases, veterans of World War II, the Korean War, the Vietnam War, the Persian Gulf, Afghanistan and other conflicts are only now sharing their memories of combat and the horrors of war. What they're trying to do is encourage Americans to pause just for a moment of silence today at 3 o'clock at 3 o'clock today. We are grateful for these men and women who gave it all and we are thankful for their families' sacrifices as well. As our country remains deeply divided, this is one easy way for us all to unite as Americans.

"We're just showing our respect to the people who died for us fighting in the wars", said Girl Scout Lauren Lehrfeld.

In proclaiming that first Decoration Day in 1868, Gen. John Logan, national commander of the Grand Army of the Republic, wrote that we should not only remember those, "who died in defense of their country", but to also "renew our pledges to aid and assist those whom they have left among us". According to the History Channel, it was created after the Civil War as a way to honor those who had died in the war.

Memorial Day, originally known as Decoration Day, was conceived after the Civil War as a way to honor the Union's war dead, with Southern states setting aside separate days to honor fallen Confederate soldiers. Memorial Day comes with a price. On Memorial Day, people wear pink sunburns and maybe their best white outfit.

There is some truth in this.

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"You can see it in people's faces that they're a little horrified that they forget this is what the day's about", said Jaslow, 34, who wears a bracelet bearing the name of a fallen comrade.

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