Tomorrow is Memorial Day. It’s a hallowed national occasion that has the distinction and misfortune of concluding a weekend that unofficially kicks off summer, includes the most famous car race in America, lots of sales and enough boating, beer and barbecue to fill an entire summer.
Memorial Day, on which we honor the memory of men and women who have died in service to our country, is simultaneously part of and necessarily separate from the rest of the weekend.
For those of us who have lost loved ones in uniform, Memorial Day is an event that formalizes the countless other times we call to mind, long for and honor individuals in the course of a year, a week, a day. It is both a personal and patriotic experience.
For others, especially given the two wars of the last decade, it should not be difficult to appreciate the sacrifices that are even still being made on our behalf. The nearly 2,000 military personnel who have died in Afghanistan and the more than 4,000 killed in Iraq gave their lives in service to their country and to one another, just as their — and our — ancestors did in our nation’s previous wars.
Their sacrifices will be honored on Monday in public events in Manhat-tan and in communities from coast to coast. Local ceremonies will take place in Sunset Cemetery in Manhattan, the Kansas Veterans Cemetery on Wildcat Creek Road, the Post Cemetery on Fort Riley and other sites. Also, the Manhattan Municipal Band will play patriotic music at its traditional Memorial Day concert at the Norvell Band Shell in City Park.
We wouldn’t for a moment discourage residents from enjoying themselves this weekend. Summer’s upon us, the pools are open and most of us have three days to play or rest or enjoy family and friends. It’s a great weekend to be an American and to savor the freedoms that are central to our heritage.
We would be remiss, however, if we didn’t also encourage residents to give some thought and at least a private salute to the men and women of this and prior generations who gave their lives to protect the liberties and opportunities we so cherish.