While Memorial Day -- traditionally the last Monday in May -- has morphed into a time where we celebrate a day off from work, a chance to go boating or have cookouts with friends and families, let's not lose sight of the holiday's true meaning.
On Monday, we honor and remember all of those who lost their lives while serving in the U.S. Armed Forces. Later this year on Nov. 11, we will mark Veterans Day, which honors all members of the military -- past and present.
This time of year, many of us are readying for or recovering from high school graduations, or we are headed out of town on vacation as school has finally let out for the summer. However, we should remember that Memorial Day is more than just a day off of work for many. Memorial Day is when we honor our fallen.
In the past, Whitfield and Murray counties had large gatherings to observe Memorial Day. Unfortunately, the COVID-19 pandemic has changed those plans. There will still be a smaller Memorial Day service in Dalton at the American Legion Post 112 on Monday at 11 a.m.
John Wilson, commander of the local American Legion, said all departed veterans will be honored during this special service. The event is free and open to the public.
"We will read the names of all who have passed this year," Wilson said. "The Dalton Fire Department will ring a bell after each name is called. This recognition is to honor our departed heroes during this special time. Lunch will be served after the service. This program is open to members, veterans and the public to help us honor our own."
For those who don't feel comfortable attending the event, there's an alternative we all can participate in. On Monday, the National Moment of Remembrance encourages all Americans to pause wherever they are at 3 p.m. "for a minute of silence to remember and honor those who have died in service to the nation."
"Participation is voluntary and informal," according to organizers. "You may observe in your own way a moment of remembrance and respect, pausing from whatever you are doing for a moment of silence or listening to 'Taps.' You may, however, organize the observance more formally at such places as your neighborhood, local pool, picnic grounds, etc., for one minute of remembrance. You may ring a bell to signify the beginning and the end of the moment or may tune into a local radio station that is observing the moment with the playing of 'Taps.' If you are driving a vehicle, you may turn on your headlights."
While Memorial Day commemorations will likely be more low-key this year due to the pandemic, they are of no less importance. Our veterans who sacrificed their lives defending our freedom deserve to be remembered. They deserve to be recognized. They deserve to be honored.
This weekend -- whether you are working, enjoying a few days off, spending time with family -- please take time to remember our veterans who are no longer with us.