Staff writer

Memorial Day.

In 1971 it officially became a holiday.

It was created to celebrate the lives of soldiers that have been lost in battle.

According to the History Channel website it was initially called Decoration Day. By 1865, the Civil War had ended and claimed the most lives in American history. It is also why national cemeteries were established.

Prior to the end of the Civil War though, people in towns had already established ways to celebrate the lives of their fallen soldiers, either by decorating graves, prayer services or small festive parties.

In 1868 General John A. Logan declared May 30, 1868 as Decoration Day. It was not a national holiday, but soon after almost all states a date set for Decoration Day.

The exact location and group of persons responsible for beginning the tradition of Memorial Day is still vague. Some records indicate that a group of freed slaves in South Carolina started the ritual, but in 1966 it was declared that Waterloo, New York was the birthplace of Memorial Day.

Memorial Day, at the time was only intended for the celebration of fallen soldiers of the Civil War.

As time passed the United States found themselves entrenched in more devastating wars; World War I and II, Vietnam War, Korean War, and the continued war in Iraq and Afghanistan.

In 1968, the Uniform Monday Holiday Act was passed. This act made Memorial Day officially observed on the last Monday in May. This was passed to create a three day weekend for federal workers. The act went into affect in 1971.

Presently, you see cemeteries adorned with the flag of the United States of America to celebrate fallen soldiers. You also see the main streets of towns lined with flags to commemorate the holiday.

Memorial Day has morphed into more than just the celebration of our fallen soldiers. It is now a distinct mark of the beginning of summer.

Typically, warmer weather has settled in and people use the weekend for opening lake houses, kick off swimming season by opening community pools and hosting barbecue parties.

As time passes it has become evident that there is some confusion between Memorial Day, Armed Forces Day and Veteran’s Day.

You will find a significant amount of veterans, including me, that are offended or upset when people say, “Thank you for your service” or similar comments on Memorial Day. We are not offended by the appreciation, nor that someone took the time to recognize our service. We are offended because we served with many people and we know of many that did not make it home.

The soldiers that do not make it home deserve the utmost respect not only from veterans and active duty military but, from everyone. They gave the ultimate sacrifice for this county; their life.

Many of us came home to our families and were able to create a life outside of the military once our service obligation was up or when the wounds from war healed. Having the gift of life and afforded the opportunity to live life, not only in the military, but outside of it as well, is a gift.

When you enlist, you accept the inherent risk of dying for your county. When you are deployed to a war zone the risk is increased significantly.

After enlisting your perception of life, especially during war, is much different in comparison than those who never serve.

I know I can speak for all veterans when I say we genuinely appreciate your gratitude and recognition for our service and many of would do it in a heartbeat to protect you and those we love. But, what we would appreciate more is for you to truly recognize those who deserve respect and admiration on Memorial Day.

This Memorial Day before you celebrate by camping, barbecuing, swimming or any festivities, please take a moment to recognize those who died fighting for our country.