Monday is Memorial Day. It will be a Memorial Day unlike any Greene and Columbia counties have ever experienced before.
Memorial Day originated on May 30, 1868, with the simple practice of decorating the graves of fallen Union soldiers with flowers, wreaths and flags at Arlington National Cemetery in Washington, D.C.
In its immediate post-Civil War iteration, Memorial Day, which started out as Decoration Day, was a time of observance exclusively for the North. As the war grew more distant, the nation reunited and since then it has been a day for all Americans to come together to honor and remember those who gave their lives to defend our freedom.
In 1971, Memorial Day became a permanent fixture on the fourth Monday of May. Over the last 50 years, the holiday became the official start of summer for all Americans, who observed the day with barbecues, extended travel and other activities with family and friends.
But this is the year of the COVID-19 pandemic. Most of the usual parades, ceremonies and other festivities have been canceled. For many people, Memorial Day 2020 will be a three-day weekend of staying at home, grocery shopping, and venturing out to a local park and maybe, just maybe, taking a walk through a cemetery to pay silent tribute to the men and women who made the supreme sacrifice.
Our world has been turned upside down, but we as a community are more united than we ever have been since the terror attacks of Sept. 11, 2001. The pandemic, separating us physically, has brought us together spiritually and emotionally to confront and fight the common challenge of the coronavirus.
We urge all the communities of the Twin Counties to take a moment this weekend to reflect on the meaning of Memorial Day in the context of what our American heroes accomplished in past battles, what we are facing today and what we can do to make a brighter and more peaceful future.