Set aside the spatula and beer, recognize veterans

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NORTHERN MICHIGAN — Celebrated as the first extended weekend following winter, Memorial Day has became a holiday of sales, grilling and yard work, but its meaning is much deeper.

Memorial Day is meant to provide the opportunity for all Americans to remember those who died serving in the armed forces.

While it is the prime opportunity to tend to your yard or to take the first camping trip of the year, it is important that we all remember the solemn reason for the day.

It is no coincidence that the holiday was established during a time that was best for many to start their gardens. It is believed the original date of May 30, chosen by Maj. Gen. John A. Logan, was selected because the flowers would be in bloom across the country.

For many years Decoration Day, as it was then known, was celebrated around the country, honoring those who died in the Civil War and later, after World War I was expanded to include all who have died in American wars.

The origin of the day has long been a topic of much debate. However, in 1966 Congress and President Lyndon Johnson sought to squash the debate and declared Waterloo, N.Y., as the birthplace of the holiday. Congress again stepped in when it declared Memorial Day a national holiday in 1971, establishing it on the last Monday of May.

The most recent act by Congress was in 2000, when it passed and the president signed the National Moment of Remembrance Act, which was established to encourage the people of America to give back to the country that provides them freedom and opportunity. The act encourages all Americans to pause wherever they are at 3 p.m. to honor those who have given the greatest sacrifice.

Taking a moment of pause is certainly the least Americans can do for the millions of men and women who have said goodbye to their families as they go to protect us and others around the world, never knowing when or if they will return.

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