Senate District 18
John Eklund
Commemorating the Lives of Our Fallen Heroes
A Guest Column by State Senator John Eklund
May 22, 2015

Every year, on the last Monday in May, our nation honors its fallen heroes by recognizing Memorial Day. Known originally as Decoration Day, Memorial Day was first observed following the Civil War as a day to remember fallen comrades. After World War I, it was celebrated as a day to honor all Americans killed in wartime.

Memorial Day is recognized as a national holiday, following the Congressional passage of the National Holiday Act of 1971. We continue to observe this tradition by closing government offices and agencies, and holding parades and memorial ceremonies. In common practice, the U.S. flag is raised briskly to the top of the staff and then lowered solemnly to half-staff. This custom honors the countless servicemen and women who have given their lives in protection of our great nation. At noon, the flag is once again raised, acknowledging that their sacrifices shall not be in vain, and the fight for liberty and justice for all shall continue.

Moina Michael, in penning a response to “In Flanders Fields”, written by John McCrae in 1915, said:

“We cherish too, the Poppy red
That grows on fields where valor let,
It seems to signal to the skies
That blood of heroes never dies.”

This verse reminds us to reflect on the bravery and sacrifices of our servicemen and women by honoring them each Memorial Day. Whether you spend the day helping veterans, attending a local parade or ceremony, or decorating the grave of a fallen hero, I encourage you to honor the memory of those who died protecting our freedoms.

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