The Commercial-News, Danville, IL

May 26, 2013

Remember the fallen


DANVILLE — They came from cities and farms, small towns and big ranches, from all points of the compass. They heeded our nation’s call and helped preserve the freedoms we enjoy today.

Memorial Day traces its roots back to the years immediately after the Civil War. Battlefields often served as cemeteries, with soldiers buried quickly — sometimes almost in the same place where they fell.

Widows in the South first decorated graves of the fallen, the Gen. John Logan ordered the first official Decoration Day on May 5, 1868, when the graves of soldiers from the Union and Confederacy alike were marked with flowers.

The holiday was know as Decoration Day for decades, and did not gain national observance until after World War I, when its scope was expanded to honor the dead from all wars.

Almost 1.2 million Americans have give the ultimate sacrifice for their country from the Revolutionary War to the ongoing conflict today in Afghanistan.

They knew wearing a U.S. military uniform would put them in harm’s way, yet they stepped forward to serve. From Lexington to Kabul, these men and women stand to protect the freedom America enjoys on this day and every day.

On Monday, a national moment of remembrance will begin at 3 p.m. in whatever time zone you might be. It’s just a momentary break in barbecues, picnics, ball games and a day away from work to remember those who served and fell doing their duty.

The National Cemetery adjacent to Illiana Health Care System on Danville’s east side holds row after row of veterans, some of whom died under enemy fire. Ceremonies are set for 10:45 a.m. Monday at the cemetery.

All those white headstones serve as a reminder to never forget the sacrifices made to protect us all.