To many Americans, Memorial Day has lost its meaning

Sgt. Heather Lynn Johnsen of Roseville Calif. guards the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier Friday

The term Memorial Day started being used in the 1880's but it was officially known as Decoration Day for more than a century.

The former Army captain and Iraq War veteran had a ready reply, telling them, matter-of-factly, that she considered it a work weekend.

Numerous facility's 175 veterans joined with with friends, family and other community members in the home's courtyard to hear remarks from Mayor Hardie Davis and Col. Deborah Ellis of Fort Gordon. In May of 1868 a nationwide day of remembrance was called for by a leader of an organization for Northern Civil War veterans, General John A. Logan.

Nebraska Governor Pete Ricketts is celebrating Memorial Day by delivering remarks at two different ceremonies, one at Offutt Air Force Base in Bellevue and the other at Memorial Park in Omaha. This Memorial Day, I too, will be spending time with my family, but it's important to remember the real meaning of Memorial Day. Memorial Day honors service members who've died in battle or from injuries sustained in battle.

Unfortunately, much of the nation has lost touch with this original objective of the day, especially for those who have no close ties to the military. It shouldn't. In World War II, some 61 percent of US military personnel were drafted.

Many patriotic communities held or are holding celebrations today. And lot of folks will spend the holiday on the water.

"This tradition has gone on for decades, longer than you and me put together", said Dennison. Contribute to the feeling that Memorial Day has been overshadowed by all the things we do today.

Of course, plenty of Americans already observe the holiday. The women brought flowers and tended to the neglected graves. Hundreds of motorcyclists thundered in for a Saturday service.

"For people that may not have family members that are out here to pay their respects for them", said Officer Larson.

"This is our Super Bowl", said Randy Plummer, the cemetery's administrative officer. "The men and women who died in the military, fighting for our rights, gave us the freedom to choose our religion, a right to go or not go a church, the right to go where we want to go and not think the way the government wants us to think". Many of them established their own memorial days. The same law also declared Memorial Day a federal holiday.

On June 28, 1968, Congress passed the Uniform Monday Holiday Act, which moved four holidays, including Memorial Day, from the traditional dates to a specified Monday in order to create a convenient three-day weekend. For years, the late Hawaii Sen.

Now, our World War II veterans are dwindling.

That leaves it to people like Resh, the Gold Star mother, to spread the message. Since 1971, Memorial Day has been observed the last Monday of May.

"Your family is like your country - you only have one of them and you need to protect them and be with them as much as possible", said Donald Marquis, Senior Vice Commander, VFW Post 1285. It's not about the picnics.

For almost 150 years, Americans have set aside time at the end of May to honor those who lost their lives in defense of this great country.

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