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Our duty

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ISSUE: Memorial Day

By Sarah Reddoch

In 1868 when John A. Logan, commander-in-chief of the Grand Army of the Republic, wrote General Orders No. 11, regarded as the founding of Memorial Day, he likely never imagined the federal three-day weekend. Surely he never imagined what was intended as a solemn observance to honor the fallen of the Civil War, one day would be seen as the unofficial start of summer.

Instead of backyard barbecues and picnics, Logan suggested “strewing with flowers or otherwise decorating the graves of comrades who died in defense of their country.”  In fact, he intentionally left out details of how the day should be observed: “No form of ceremony is prescribed, but posts and comrades will in their own way arrange such fitting services and testimonials of respect as circumstances may permit.”

But the Memorial Day he created is still here and will be marked Monday with observances large and small across this community and others, and by generations old and young.

Among the scheduled events in Hardin County is the annual parade in Elizabethtown by American Legion Post 113. The parade starts at 10 a.m. at Pritchard Community Center and ends with a ceremony at American Legion Park where the names of more than 200 area veterans who have died in the past year will be read. A POW/MIA monument dedication starts at 11 a.m. at Kentucky Veterans Cemetery-Central and an 11:30 a.m. ceremony is scheduled at Fort Knox.

A memorial service, sponsored by DAV Chapter 156 of Radcliff, will be at 11 a.m., North Hardin Memorial Gardens, South Logsdon Parkway near North Hardin High School.

There are other ways to honor the fallen. A National Moment of Remembrance is set for 3 p.m. local time to pause and reflect on the meaning of the day.

USMemorialday.org reminds us to fly the U.S. flag at half-staff until noon, to visit memorials and cemeteries, to fly the POW/MIA flag, to renew a pledge to “aid the widows, widowers and orphans of our fallen dead and to aid disabled veterans.”

Each day more than 100 veterans join their fallen comrades, veterans who experienced the horrors of war and those who stood guard, ever vigilant, in times of peace. And as Logan noted so many years ago, those who were fortunate to have died at home deserve tribute along with those who fell doing their duty.

“If other eyes grow dull, other hands slack, and other hearts cold in the solemn trust, ours shall keep it well as long as the light and warmth of life remain to us.

“Let us, then, at the time appointed gather around their sacred remains and garland the passionless mounds above them with the choicest flowers of spring-time; let us raise above them the dear old flag they saved from dishonor; let us in this solemn presence renew our pledges to aid and assist those whom they have left among us a sacred charge upon a nation’s gratitude, the soldier’s and sailor’s widow and orphan.”

The torch of responsibility continues to be passed. As new generations defend the cause of freedom, let us honor them with our respect, our hearts, our memories and by taking care of those they left behind.  

— This editorial represents a consensus of The News-Enterprise editorial board.