This past Monday marked the passage of another Memorial Day. Although many see this weekend as the beginning of summer and the first opportunity to break out the barbeque grills, it is important to remember the significance of this holiday and the sacrifices made by so many to allow us to enjoy the freedoms we have today.
Memorial Day dates back to June 3, 1861, when the first Civil War grave was decorated with flowers in Warrenton, Virginia. At that time, Memorial Day was known as “Decoration Day” and “Northern states” started decorating the graves of fallen soldiers at certain times of the year. Communal potlucks for decorating volunteers were also common in the post-Civil War era, held by various church groups who sponsored the decoration of the soldiers’ cemeteries.
After World War I, Decoration Day began to be observed in all states in honor of those who had died in all U.S. wars and its name was changed from Decoration Day to Memorial Day. Since 1971, Memorial Day has been observed on the last Monday in May. Memorial Day continues to be a holiday of special importance to those who have served in the American military, and family members who grieve for their lost loved ones (Gold Star families). Once a year, this holiday allows them to honor those who have died fighting wars in the name of their country. This is why the quote “All Gave Some, Some Gave All” is frequently used in relation to the holiday.
Although some see this holiday as the beginning of summer, make no mistake about it, this is a holiday that is first and foremost about sacrifice, bravery and valor and the remembrance of those who exhibited all of those traits to preserve the American way of life.
I was honored to spend Memorial Day at various celebrations throughout District 42. Wallace welcomed me to their service at Morning View Cemetery, which dates back to 1892. Wallace American Legion Post 213 hosted the service and a delicious community hamburger and hot dog feed following the celebration. My wife and daughter are members of the American Legion Auxiliary, so it is always special for me to support American Legion events.
Next, I joined Gov. Pete Ricketts at the Fort McPherson National Cemetery south of Maxwell. It was dedicated in 1873 and is the final resting place for soldiers who fought in the Indian Wars, the Civil War, World Wars I and II and more recent conflicts. The cemetery is enclosed by wrought-iron fencing with large vehicular gates supported by stone piers, all constructed in 1941. A white marble monument marks the mass grave of 28 soldiers killed in an 1854 encounter with the Sioux at Fort Laramie in the Wyoming Territory. Fort McPherson National Cemetery is the also the final resting place for four recipients of the Medal of Honor, the nation’s highest military decoration, given for “conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity and the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty.”
Finally, I attended the ceremony at the North Platte 20th Century Veterans Memorial. Here, bronze statutes memorialize Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines and Coast Guard veterans, as well as the volunteers of the North Platte Canteen. The five major conflicts of the 20th century, World War I, World War II, Korea War, Vietnam War and Gulf War, are depicted in a 15-foot-tall brick bas-relief mural.
It was truly a humbling experience to spend Memorial Day visiting the grave sites of our brave men and women who served. I am honored to have many veterans in my own family, including my father and father-in-law, who are no longer with us. I would challenge us all to live our lives in such a way that honors the sacrifice of those who died for us.
Thank you to all veterans and for those who died for our freedom!
Constituents can reach Senator Mike Jacobson at email@example.com or 402-471-2729. Our door is always open.