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Grim's Tales: Give time to honor veterans on Memorial Day

Nate Beeler of the Columbus Dispatch. Caglecartooons.com1 / 2
Steve Sack of the Minneapolis Star Tribune. Caglecartooons.com2 / 2

A grand parade, a community picnic with people lined up down the block, taps ringing through the air and cemeteries full of locals honoring veterans interred there. These are some of the Memorial Day sights and sounds mentioned in Pine River Journal archives.

Memorial Day was once a huge, community social event that likely rivaled anything we have today. I understand that festivals and get-togethers simply aren't what they once were, but I don't think any event took as big a hit as Memorial Day.

Yes there are still services in all of our communities, but if there is one event that deserves to flourish rather than flounder, this is the one I think we can all agree should command our attention.

In each community there is a group of faithful attendees at each ceremony. People who likely plan their week around Memorial Day and would not miss it for their life. Mixed in is a smaller crowd of people who are seasonal residents or who simply show up occasionally at this or that Memorial Day ceremony. The crowd does not resemble the ones I read about in archives. It makes me jealous to read about the days when the entire community gathered to spend their entire day remembering our veterans.

Admittedly, parades and picnics are not what make Memorial Day. A community picnic in itself does not automatically honor veterans, nor does a parade. People already treat Memorial Day as just a day off for them to enjoy a barbecue or day at the lake without a care in the world.

That being said, I don't think these parades or picnics necessarily need to be brought back, but I do think the crowd that accompanied these events should return.

Veterans Day only gets large crowds because our schools don't give students the day off. As a result, students sit through a ceremony complete with music and speeches by members of our distinguished military. For that reason, I think our schools should always have class on Veterans Day. By comparison, Memorial Day receives very little attention.

Parents and students alike are at home having a day off, including those adults who enthusiastically wave our flag, bleed red/white/blue and are vocally patriotic year-round. On Memorial Day, many of these same people are fishing, barbecuing and playing video games.

They aren't being hypocrites; I just think it doesn't occur to many people that this day could use more somber reflection. Cemetery ceremonies don't last that long, so even if we wanted to do those fun things, we could all make a little extra effort to attend and listen to taps, observe the 21-gun salute and watch the wreath laying.

I know I will be at Pine Ridge Cemetery on Memorial Day this year. Where will you be?