Military Matters: The meaning of Memorial Day

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NEWTON, Miss. (WTOK) - Many people will be looking forward to Memorial Day. For some adults, it's an extra day off work and for kids it traditionally marks the beginning of the summer break. But are we forgetting what the day is all about?

Mississippi Veterans’ Affairs is putting on a special ceremony at the Mississippi Veterans’ Memorial Cemetery in Newton on Memorial Day. Names of Mississippians who have lost their lives in wars around the world will be read aloud.

Executive Director of MVA, Stacey Pickering, says it’s important for us to pay our respects.

"A lot of families spend Memorial Day barbecuing, picnicking, going to the lake and spending time with family and friends. But they get to do that because of the sacrifice of these men and women who went before, who put on our nation's uniform, raised their right hand and took the oath of office," Pickering says.

Memorial Day started out as Decoration Day, originating in the years following the Civil War before it became an official federal holiday in 1971.

"We have 107 Mississippians who died in the Persian Gulf War, through Desert Storm and throughout the Global War on Terror in Afghanistan, Iraq, who were Mississippians, and those families are still living with that grief and loss. And on Memorial Day, we as a grateful nation should pause and lift them up in prayers and remember them and say thanks for their sacrifice," added Pickering.

Mississippi Veterans’ Memorial Cemetery will host a ceremony honoring veterans at 10 a.m. Monday, May 27, Memorial Day.