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Daily News Editorial

By Staff | May 24, 2008

This Monday is more than just another day off. It’s the day set aside for Memorial Day observances, a time to honor our war dead and others who have left us.

Traditionally, Memorial Day was observed on May 30, and while many veterans understandably still hold that day as hallowed, most people observe Memorial Day activities and events this coming Monday.

General John Logan, national commander of the Grand Army of the Republic, officially proclaimed Memorial Day in the United States on May 30, 1868, when flowers were placed on the graves of Union and Confederate soldiers at Arlington National Cemetery.

New York was the first state to officially recognize the holiday in 1873 and by 1890 all the northern states recognized the holiday.

Today, nearly every state celebrates Memorial Day while some southern states have a separate day for honoring Confederate war dead: Jan. 19 in Texas; April 26 in Alabama, Florida, Georgia, and Mississippi; May 10 in South Carolina; and June 3, Jefferson Davis’ birthday, in Louisiana and Tennessee.

We are now in an era in which many, if not most, of our World War II veterans have passed away. Sadly, their heroism was often not recognized because they would simply have none of that. They simply did what they had to do in order to save civilization.

A front-page newspaper story toward the end of World War II had a photograph of Estherville with white crosses on the homes where a son or husband or father had been killed or was missing in action. There were many.

Estherville was not alone, though. Many communities throughout Iowa, the Midwest, and the nation were hit hard by their losses in the war.

More wars came. Korea, Vietnam, and now Afghanistan and Iraq where Americans lay their lives down every day to offer others the same freedoms that we enjoy.

Unfortunately, there are those who do not want their people to be free. Rather than give their people the freedom to think and realize how despotic their leaders are, they turn them against us. But we are lucky enough to have servicemen and servicewomen who are willing to give their lives to see that others may some day know what freedom truly is.

That is why we celebrate Memorial Day. Not to have a picnic or another day off, but to honor those who have served in the past, serve today, and who will continue to serve in the future.

So honor them, and recognize that they are all that stands between us and despotism.