Remember the reason for the weekend

Published 8:30 pm Friday, May 24, 2019

Memorial Day Weekend has, for years, served as the unofficial and cultural beginning of summer. The morning and evening crisp in the air that defines the spring season has all but subsided, leaving behind hot, muggy temperatures and the prospect of summer cookouts, pool visits and fireworks. As the community largely enters into this three-day weekend today and annual summer kick-off, it is important to take a moment and remember the reason behind the weekend, namely the men and women who have given their lives to defend our freedoms to live, work and play in a free country.

The holiday had its unofficial beginning in the 1860s, only a few short years after the Civil War, when Americans began holding spring tributes to those fallen soldiers. In 1868, General John A. Logan, the leader of an organization of northern Civil War veterans, called for this remembrance to happen each year on May 30, a date supposedly chosen to coincide with the blooming of spring flowers across the country.

Decoration Day became an official state holiday in many states soon thereafter, and eventually became a day of remembrance for American soldiers who died in any war.

In 1968, Congress established Memorial Day as the last Monday in May with the Uniform Monday Holiday Act. The act also established the date as a federal holiday.

In 1868, General Logan’s orders asked for the graves of the fallen soldiers be commemorated, and held in high esteem. “Let pleasant paths invite the coming and going of reverent visitors and fond mourners,” he said. “Let no neglect, no ravages of time, testify to the present or to the coming generations that we have forgotten as a people the cost of a free and undivided republic.”

Those words, and that original intent, still reverberate through our communities today. Yesterday morning, member organizations of the West Georgia Veterans Council gathered to plant flags on the gravesites of fallen soldiers in LaGrange, which can be seen this weekend. The site is a visual reminder of the price those heroes paid for our continued freedom.

Here in LaGrange, Memorial Day will be celebrated at Meadoway Gardens at 11 a.m. on Monday. Hogansville will also host a Memorial Day service on Monday as well.

We encourage you to attend one of the services and remember our fallen heroes.