This Monday, Laguna Beach will prepare to fly the traditional colors, sound the patriotic hymns and take a day off in remembrance of Americans who have fallen in the line of duty.
To some, the holiday is a reminder of the sacrifices past "” and current "” generations have made in the name of freedom. To others, it’s merely a day off from school or work. But lest we forget: Memorial Day does not just mean concerts. Or barbecues. Or picnics. Or auto races.
Memorial Day isn’t even about ceremonies. The last Monday in May has been set aside since 1868 to remember and to honor those who paid the ultimate price for the liberties we hold dear.
It was originally called Decoration Day, for the kindly souls who placed flowers on the graves of soldiers who lost their lives in the Civil War. It was expanded after World War I to include the American men and women who lost their lives in any war or military action.
No form or ceremony was prescribed "” the Memorial Day Order leaves posts and comrades free to arrange fitting services or testimonies of respect.
So there’s no right or wrong way to celebrate Memorial Day. But we hope most people in Laguna Beach, among the most privileged in the nation, will set aside at least some time to reflect on the holiday’s true meaning.
For an immediate example, consider this fact: According to the website Iraq Coalition Casualty Count, nearly 5,000 American troops have been confirmed dead in Iraq and Afghanistan in the last decade. That’s the equivalent of nearly one fourth the population of Laguna Beach.
At Monday’s ceremonies, there will no doubt be veterans from World War II, Korea, Vietnam and other wars in attendance. Our country would not be the same without the sacrifices they made.
But the mounting toll in the Middle East serves as a reminder that America’s sacrifices are far from over.
So Monday, let’s all take a moment to remember America’s fallen "” whether at a ceremony downtown, or just in a personal moment of silence.