By Sterling McGinn

Memorial Day weekend is often referred to as the official start of summer.

Seniors are graduating from high school—there are BBQS—picnics and some signs say “Memorial Day patio furniture sales”. Flags are being placed along streets, at cemeteries. and in yards.

In our hurried world, we could forget the real meaning of Memorial Day. It is a day to remember the brave men and women of our armed services who sacrificed their lives for our freedom.

Every town has a memorial listing these military heroes, usually at a courthouse or town square. Ours is in front of Tahquamenon Area Schools.

Luce County and the surrounding areas have lost a significant number of community members in all wars since WWI. Our first here in Newberry was U.S. Marine Corp. Private Frank Quinlan. Though he only lived here for about three years, he is one of our fallen heroes.

The first son of Newberry who was killed in WWI was U.S. Army Private Hugh Allan MacInnes, a 26-year-old lumber grader at Horner Flooring, who set his life aside and enlisted. He never made it back home. He was killed in battle and is buried in France. There were more to follow.

Then came WWII, and we should never forget about Gunner’s Mate First Class Robert Spreeman, who is still entombed in the U.S.S. Arizona in Pearl Harbor.

We lost more local heroes in Korea, Vietnam, and the war in Afghanistan.

While we can still enjoy our weekend, we need to pause on Monday to reflect what this day means to America.

Our local American Legions of Newberry, Hulbert, and Engadine remember the sacrifices of their comrades and plan services in their memory each year.

I encourage every resident to attend the programs in your community. Remember the sacrifices of all who died while serving this country. Many did not have the opportunity to get married, have children, have grandchildren, or start careers.

In exchange for that gift, it is our duty to remember them.

In Newberry you will hear readings from high school students, speeches from veterans. and witness the decoration of Hugh Allan MacInnes’s memorial stone. For more than 100 years, flowers have been placed on that stone by an honored Legionnaire. Though MacInnes’ remains were never brought home, his memory has never been forgotten.

Near the conclusion of the programs, you will hear the final roll call and the haunting echoes of the bugle playing “Taps.” The program in Newberry will also display a missing man stand with a Legion cap and rifle. Since last year’s ceremonies, Post 74 lost dedicated honor guard members Mike Welty and Dan Moore. This stand will be placed during the program in their memory.

These programs honor those who have gone before us while young and old join in humble tribute.

We should never forget.