Instead, Memorial Day long ago became, essentially, the unofficial start of summer in the United States. It is a day off from work or school to head to the pool or the nearest body of water with friends and family. A barbecue often caps the day.
There is little time, it seems, spent considering the day's meaning. The holiday honors the nation's war dead, the members of the military whose lives were lost in service to their country. It is not a 4th of July-style celebration of American freedom. It is a commemoration of the price of that freedom.
People will be seen at area cemeteries honoring the fallen soldiers as well as their own late family members. It is likely the cemeteries will be decorated with American flags for Memorial Day, a holiday that was once known as Decoration Day.
Park City and surrounding Summit County have, thankfully, not suffered the loss of a soldier in the 11 1/2 years of the war on terrorism, although some have returned from the battlegrounds with horrible injuries. It should not take that kind of loss for the community to understand the sacrifices of the military.
The local post of the American Legion, a veterans' group, has planned a ceremony in Park City on Monday to mark the holiday. It starts at 10 a.m. at the Park City Cemetery on Kearns Boulevard.
One of the organizers of the ceremony, post commander Kris Smith, says in this edition of The Park Record that many Americans do not understand the reason for the day off at the start of the summer. They have "lost sensitivity" to the meaning of the holiday, he says.
At the ceremony on Monday, the American Legion post will offer veterans time to speak about Memorial Day. Their words should set the tone for the holiday, even if the rest of the day is spent at a barbecue.