Memorial Day isn’t just one other three-day weekend for me and my household. We get pleasure from our household cookout and time spent collectively, after all, however we don’t overlook to take a second to commemorate and replicate on the service and sacrifice of those that misplaced their lives combating for the freedoms we get pleasure from every single day.

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My household has a robust historical past of army service. Not solely did I serve in Iraq within the U.S. Marine Corps for greater than six years, however my brothers additionally each served within the Marines in Iraq and Afghanistan. My son, Jeremiah, who’s attending the Air Power Academy this fall will proceed our household’s legacy of army service.

However you would not have to be a army household to grasp the significance of Memorial Day. It’s encouraging that greater than 49 % of People consider Memorial Day is considered one of our nation’s most vital holidays, however solely 28 % of People know the true that means of Memorial Day: to recollect those that have died defending our nation.

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Memorial Day is extra than simply honoring the service of the deceased, it’s about protecting their reminiscence alive. This vacation is especially vital to me not simply because I’m a Marine veteran, however as a result of I used to be mortuary affairs specialist. You see, mortuary affairs specialists have an extremely troublesome, however vital job: our mission is to carry our fallen dwelling.

Mortuary affairs specialists should not solely tasked with recovering, figuring out, and preserving these killed within the line of responsibility, however safeguarding their private gadgets too. It’s an extremely humbling expertise that has helped me notice each the significance of seizing each second life has to supply in addition to the significance of treating everybody with dignity and respect.

Whereas we share a somber second with these we have now misplaced in the present day, Memorial Day doesn’t should be a day of unhappiness. The women and men who enlist in army service know the unimaginable danger they’re taking, and in the present day is a day to recollect their sacrifice and to offer them the dignity they deserve.

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As a mortuary affairs specialist, I consider that all of us have a particular duty to not simply memorialize those that have paid the final word sacrifice, however to recollect those that are lacking in motion and prisoners of struggle. MIA/POWs should not labeled as deceased, however as unaccounted for. There are at present greater than 82,000 People who stay lacking from WWII, the Korean Conflict, the Vietnam Conflict, the Chilly Conflict, the Gulf Wars, and different conflicts.

These women and men have additionally made great sacrifices for our nation, however are sometimes forgotten as their names don’t seem on a headstone in locations like Arlington Nationwide Cemetery or a veteran’s memorial. I consider we have to return these courageous People dwelling and provides them the burial they deserve, however the least we will do is share their tales and maintain their reminiscence alive.

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When you get pleasure from your time with your loved ones this weekend, I ask that you simply maintain these households who don’t get that privilege in your ideas. Take the time to be taught in regards to the tales of America’s fallen heroes who served our nation with dignity, honor, and braveness. These households suffered a deeply private loss, however all of us have a duty to hold on the reminiscence and legacy of those that made the final word sacrifice for his or her nation.

Leroy Garcia is Colorado’s Senate president. He represents Senate District three in Pueblo and Pueblo West.

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