Daily Progress, Jacksonville, TX

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May 25, 2013

OPINION: On Memorial Day, remember the ones left behind

Moms, dads, brothers, sisters, spouses and children all will spend their final days with huge holes in their hearts

JACKSONVILLE —

For many Americans, the three-day Memorial Day weekend signals the kick-off of the summer season, or maybe it's the perfect time to score some great deals if they're looking for a car/household appliances/furniture.

For a more select group, however – a group of folks who would do just about anything in their power to NOT claim a membership that was forced on them – Memorial Day is that time when the country officially pauses to remember the men and women who died in military service to their country. Men and women who were someone's beloved parent, sibling, spouse.

According to the website www.usmemorialday.org, on May 5, 1868, General John Logan – national commander of the Grand Army of the Republic, issued a general order proclaiming Memorial Day “designated for the purpose of strewing with flowers or otherwise decorating the graves of comrades who died in defense of their country during the late rebellion … posts and comrades will in their own way arrange such fitting services and testimonials of respect as circumstances may permit.”

The state of New York was the first – in 1873 – to recognize the holiday, and by 1890, the northern states of the United States recognized it as well, the site said. Over the years, other parts of the country embraced the custom, now celebrated on the last Monday of May, thanks to the National Holiday Act passed by Congress in 1971.

As part of a large, Hispanic family with strong a military tradition, Memorial Day has a bit of a deeper meaning to our family because of the men and women who have served wholeheartedly over three generations. But it wasn’t until several years ago that it gained a very real face: That of a little boy with huge green eyes, endearingly large ears and a wide, lovely smile who couldn’t wait for the day to be a soldier like his mama and daddy.

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