Honor our brave soldiers

Published 2:05 am Thursday, May 31, 2007

By By Adrienne McKenzie
Memorial Day is not just a day that we get to take off of work. It is not just a day that we get to spend at the beach or shopping or eating out. It is a day that is set aside to honor the men and women that have died defending this country.
Memorial Day started out as a day to remember only the soldiers who passed away during the Civil War, but as time went by, it has grown into something more.
Memorial Day was originally called "Decoration Day" because after the Civil War, individuals set time aside to honor those who died during that war. Those individuals came together and decorated the graves of the people who passed away. It was first recognized on May 30, 1868 by proclamation of General John A. Logan.
During the first "Decoration Day," General James Garfield spoke at Arlington National Cemetery. After his speech, approximately 5,000 individuals decorated the graves of both Union and Confederate soldiers.
Communities across the United States began celebrating the holiday and after World War I, events occurred to honor all of those who died in any American War, not just the Civil War.
Congress declared Memorial Day a national holiday in 1971.
Now, Memorial Day is celebrated every year with events such as the one held in Atmore at Oak Hill Cemetery. The VFW Post 7016, along with the American Legion, held a remembrance ceremony Monday in the cemetery.
Many people spoke about the importance of the holiday and how it is important to honor the individuals who have died fighting for our country.
Another Memorial Day event occurred Monday when United States President George W. Bush spoke at Arlington National Cemetery for the holiday.
It was President Bush's fifth visit to the cemetery as a war-time president and he called the men and women who have lost their lives in the Iraq War a "new generation of heroes" and he gave praise to the men and women who continue to volunteer to serve the country in the Iraq War.
I am lucky in that everyone I know who was ever in the Army, Air Force, or any other kind of service, lived through their experiences at war. However, I know that not all people are so lucky and I believe Memorial Day is a great day for those individuals to remember their loved ones, their "fallen heroes."
I have the utmost respect for the soldiers who volunteer their time and energy to fight for the country, in whatever branch of the military they may be in. It is a very dangerous job for them to have and I know that I would hate to do it.
So, for those individuals who have lost a loved one in war, I hope you took time out Monday to honor their name and say a quick prayer for the rest of the soldiers who are still fighting for the U.S.
Adrienne McKenzie is a staff reporter for The Atmore Advance. She can be reached at 368-2123 or via email at lifestyles@atmoreadvance.com

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