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We all have a stake in Memorial Day
Memorial Day is the traditional first day of the summer season, but before heading to the lake or barbecue grill, we hope you'll take time to pay homage to those who gave their all to give you that right.
With its roots in the bloody American Civil War, Decoration Day, which didn't officially become Memorial Day until 1967, was first observed at the Washington Race Course in Charleston, South Carolina by formerly enslaved black people.
According to Professor David Blight of the Yale University History Department, the race course had been used as a temporary Confederate prison camp as well as a mass grave for Union soldiers who died there.
Immediately after the armistice, the former slaves exhumed the bodies from the mass grave and reinterred them properly with individual graves, building a fence around it and declaring it a Union graveyard after only 10 days of work.
On May 1, 1865, the Charleston newspaper reported that a crowd of up to 10,000 mainly black residents, including 2,800 children, proceded to the site for sermons, singing and a picnic on the grounds, thereby creating the first Decoration Day.
Few of us have more at stake than did those at that early observance, but all of us owe much to those who have died in that war and those since, including the current conflicts.
In McCook, a decorated helicopter pilot, Jon Beckenhauer of Lincoln, who experienced conflicts from Vietnam through Desert Storm, will be the featured speaker. That services is at 10:30 a.m. Monday in Memorial Park Cemetery.
We urge everyone to take in their local Memorial Day observance, support those who have organized the event and honor military personnel who can no longer speak for themselves.