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Retired Navy Lt. Cmdr. Mary Kay Sherry salutes the colors as they pass during a Memorial Day Ceremony at Twentynine Palms Cemetery May 28, 2012. (Official USMC photo by Lance Cpl. Lauren A. Kurkimilis)

Photo by Lance Cpl. Lauren Kurkimilis

A holiday for remembrance

31 May 2012 | Lance Cpl. D.J. Wu

For many, Memorial Day is the unofficial start of the summer and an opportunity to barbeque and enjoy the company of friends and family. However, the significance of the holiday goes much deeper than a day of fun in the sun.

Communities all over the United States visit their local cemeteries and memorials to pay their respects by planting flags, laying wreaths or with prayer.

Local residents honored fallen service members Monday at the Twentynine Palms Cemetery and at the Joshua Tree Memorial Park and Mortuary. Brig. Gen. George W. Smith Jr., commanding general of the Combat Center, was a guest speaker at both events.

Memorial Day was originally called Decoration Day after the Civil War. The holiday is a day to remember all who died while serving in the U.S. Armed Forces.

The holiday was officially proclaimed on May 5, 1868, by Gen. John Logan the commander of the Grand Army of the Republic. It became a national holiday in 1971 with Congress passing the National Holiday Act of 1971.

Memorial Day is one of the larger holidays celebrating the patriotism and pride of Americans. Families have barbeques and remember the people who protect it with their lives.

“Though we celebrate our honored dead this day, let us not forget those who currently serve and protect us today,” said Pastor Roger D. Mayes, Grace Community Church, in his closing prayers at the ceremony in Joshua Tree.

Smith mentioned in his speeches the fallen from the Combat Center. He spoke about 3rd Battalion, 7th Marine Regiment Remembrance Ceremony and the 3rd Combat Engineer Battalion Remembrance Ceremony that was held Wednesday.

Graves across the United States have been marked with American flags and wreaths and flowers are resting on their tombstones. All that pass by, will know that these men and women defended their country and remember there are service members out there every day still defending it.

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Marine Corps Air Ground Combat Center Twentynine Palms