What does Memorial Day really mean?
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What does Memorial Day really mean?

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To most, Memorial Day is a time to celebrate with cookouts, family and friends. After all, it is the unofficial start of summer. A time to go to the lake and ride the boat. A time to hit the beach and soak up the rays of the Carolina sun.

To us veterans and those serving in the Armed Forces, Memorial Day is none of these things. Please, let me help those who have never served understand what this holiday means to a veteran, service member, and loved one of those who paid the ultimate price for service to our country.

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It is a time of reflection. It is a time of remembrance. Not of the battles or wars we fought, but of the men and women of all services that made the ultimate sacrifice for our country. From the Revolutionary War to Operation Inherent Resolve, this day is their day. Remember them. Pray for them and their loved ones.

Honor those who died in service to our country. Honor them by flying Old Glory at half-staff until noon, then raise it to full staff. Honor them by wearing a Red Poppy. Visit a cemetery and make sure the gravesite of a veteran is clean and has a flag standing tall by their headstone. At 3 p.m., have a moment of remembrance for all those that gave their lives in service and explain to your children what this day really means. Honor them by donating to a reputable charity that supports veterans and their families.

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Probably the single most important thing not to do is thank a veteran for their service on Monday. This is not Veterans Day, Armed Forces Day or Independence Day. Instead of thanking a veteran or service member, simply say “I (we) remember.”

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In life before the coronavirus, a hug or handshake would be appropriate. But we live in an unprecedented time. Please, remember them. Honor them. Not those of us who served or are serving, but those heroes that never came home.

Retired First Sgt. Kevin Rast is from Bowman.

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