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Fecteau: Honor Our Fallen Heroes on Memorial Day

Monday, May 29, 2017
Matt Fecteau, GoLocalPDX Guest MINDSETTERâ„¢

Depending on who you ask, Memorial Day is either a day off from work, the beginning of summer, or a reason for great deals at the local auto dealer. This year, I hope people take the time to recognize the true meaning of Memorial Day and not merely relegate it to a day of simple rest and relaxation. Memorial Day should be a time to honor those that made the ultimate sacrifice in service to our country. 

As a veteran myself, my hope is that we never lose sight of the true meaning of Memorial Day, and always remember that freedom isn’t necessarily free. While your friends and family should be a part of that experience, we shouldn’t ignore the men and women who valiantly gave their lives in defense of our country. 

There is some confusion with Memorial Day, and other holidays and observed days. For example, Armed Forces Day is a day specifically dedicated for citizens to thank service members for their service. Veterans Day is a day that celebrates all veterans that served. Memorial Day is an annual monument to those that lost their lives while serving. 

Memorial Day does have an interesting history. Memorial Day takes its roots mostly back to the American Civil War when it was first called Decoration Day. The Civil War, where 620,000 soldiers lost their lives, left a large gaping wound on our country, and perhaps the holiday was a way for collective healing.  Grateful, yet somber Americans took the time to decorate the graves of fallen soldiers. This tradition continued until, finally, in 1971, Memorial Day became a recognized federal holiday. 

So the question is: how will you commemorate Memorial Day? Will it just be another day off? Or will it be a day to take the time to remember our country’s best and brightest? In 2000, perhaps Congress perhaps realized Memorial Day was being watered down and took action. Congress established a National Moment of Remembrance on Memorial Day at 3:00 P.M. local time. During this time, all Americans are encouraged to pause for one minute to reflect on those that lost their lives. 

While this brief pause is a very small commitment, I believe it is fitting. No matter where you are or what you are doing, I ask every American to take the time to briefly pause and remember the true meaning of Memorial Day with this simple gesture. I don’t think that is too much to ask especially for those who gave up so much for our freedom.

Matt Fecteau ([email protected]) of Pawtucket, Rhode Island was a Democratic candidate for office in 2014 and 2016. He is a former White House national security intern and Iraq War veteran. Follow him on Twitter @MatthewFecteau

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