Memorial Day weekend is known as the unofficial start to summer, a time when pools open, vacations are started, and stores offer deals.
But Monday is not about enjoying a day off from everyday concerns.
We do an unforgivable disservice if we don’t push through the commercialization of Memorial Day and remember the reason we’re given a day to fire up the barbecue. That reason is to honor the men and women who have given their lives for our country.
Memorial Day was first officially observed May 30, 1868, to honor the hundreds of thousands of soldiers who died during the Civil War. The holiday has since evolved to observe all U.S. servicemen and women who have died while in military service.
We have to go back to just 2012 to remember the last McHenry County soldier who died in war: Capt. Nathan McHone, 29, of Crystal Lake, was one of six Marines killed when their helicopter crashed Jan. 19 in Helmand province, Afghanistan.
Other local residents recently killed in Iraq and Afghanistan are Collier Barcus, Jonathan Collins, Keith Nurnberg, Lukasz Saczek, Jason McLeod and Christopher Antonik.
We’ll list the names of all McHenry County residents killed in service to this country on Monday’s Opinion page. For those wishing to pay their respects, there are no lack of local parades, ceremonies and events to remember those lost.
Because Memorial Day is, at its core, a day to remember.
For those who lost a loved one, a day to recall him or her.
For those who survived conflicts, a day to remember their comrades who didn’t make it home.
For those who have never known what it means to deploy, a day to honor those who did and paid with their lives.
Taking one day a year to honor these brave souls who gave their lives to ensure our freedoms remain is the least we can do. We console those they left behind, whose hearts are likely still broken at the loss of a father, mother, son, daughter, brother, sister or friend.
And we thank current military members as well as surviving veterans, those willing to sacrifice all they have to uphold the ideals of a country that at times likely has let each of us down.
Monday is for those who believed in something bigger than themselves and gave their lives to preserve it.
We salute you and honor your sacrifice.