Jim Zeigler: Memorial Day, the meaning

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Image source: Jim Zeigler

A three-day holiday weekend. Barbeques, lakes, beaches. The unofficial start of summer. But let us not forget the real meaning of Memorial Day.

In 1868, Decoration Day was established as a time for the country to decorate with flowers the graves of fallen soldiers in the War Between the States. After World War I, Decoration Day was changed to remember all soldiers who lost their lives in war. On May 11, 1950, Decoration Day became Memorial Day, and in 1971, President Richard Nixon declared Memorial Day a federal holiday and set it on the last Monday in May.

We need to be mindful of the ultimate sacrifice brave men and women made as they served our country. Since 2000, Americans have been asked to join in a moment of remembrance at 3:00 p.m. local time on Memorial Day Monday. This time of reflection offers us the opportunity to pause and think seriously about how the American way of life is made possible by those who died serving their country.

John McCrae’s famous poem “In Flanders Fields” reminds us that the torch of freedom is passed to us from those who died in service. We are “to hold it high.” Going forth, let us do exactly that as we remember the great cost of freedom and those who paid dearly for us to enjoy it.


Jim Zeigler is the State Auditor of Alabama