This weekend folks in Johnson County and across America will head for the mountains or the lake or just put their feet up and enjoy an extra day off. For millions of Americans, Memorial Day marks the start of summer.

However, such was not always the case.

Memorial Day began sometime near the end of the Civil War. By 1868, the Grand Army of the Republic General John A. Logan had proclaimed Decoration Day (as the holiday was first called), a day “designated for the purpose of strewing flowers or decorating the graves of comrades who died in defense of their country during the late rebellion.”

It was only after World War I that the holiday was expanded beyond honoring fallen Civil War soldiers to recognizing all veterans who died in the service of our country.

Originally this somber holiday was observed on May 30 each year. However, in 1971, Congress moved Memorial Day to the last Monday in May.

Some argue the three-day weekend holiday marked the beginning of the end of honoring our war dead on Memorial Day. Indeed, Memorial Day has become a day to honor all our loved ones who have passed. And, while such remembrances are certainly important, let us not forget our fallen soldiers.

Countless brave men and women have died defending this great country of ours. They paid the ultimate sacrifice to protect our country and our way of life.

This Memorial Day, take time from your weekend barbecue to say a prayer of thanksgiving to those who bought our freedom with their blood and their lives.

A federal law adopted in 2000 designates 3 p.m. local time as the time for all Americans, in their own way, to observe the National Moment of Remembrance.

For those who fly the United States flag, it should be raised to half-staff between dawn and noon on Memorial Day, then lowered all the way down at noon and raised up to the peak until sunset.

In Buffalo, you can pay your respects by attending Memorial Day services beginning at 9 a.m. A complete schedule can be found in this week’s Buffalo Bulletin.

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