What are you doing for Memorial Day?

It is a commonly heard question as the Monday holiday approaches, especially in areas like New England where winters are long and cold. Memorial Day has long been one of Ridgefield’s biggest days as a town, with a big parade and patriotic speeches. Earlier in the weekend small American flags are placed on veterans’ graves. Still, for many the day is seen as the start of summer. This year, well, things are different.

People might still be able to manage long getaways and go to the beach, but social distancing definitely makes an impact. And this year, the coronavirus pandemic has taken away Ridgefield’s loud and proud Memorial Day parade. But this pandemic can’t take away the meaning of Memorial Day.

Unlike Veterans Day, which honors all who have served our country, Memorial Day is a day to remember those who died in the service of this nation. It is a solemn day of tribute and reflection. Its origins date back to shortly after the Civil War: According to the U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs, May was chosen because it was the time of year where flowers would be blooming plentifully. Flowers were used in the early years of “Decoration Day” as it was originally called, to pay tribute to soldiers’ graves.

Other historians point out one of the earliest Memorial Day ceremonies was held in Charleston, S.C., where black workmen reburied Union dead and held a cemetery dedication following the burial.

There’s nothing wrong with celebrating the beginning of summer and leaving the longest spring most of us have ever experienced behind. But this year with few organized town events, Ridgefielders should take care to remember and personally commemorate Memorial Day. Take time for a moment of silence to honor those who gave up their lives so we could walk in the sunshine of our great nation’s freedom. Tell the children of the house the history of Memorial Day and help them understand why we honor it.

Often, when The Press asks veterans about Memorial Day they suggest that instead of using their own names and stories, we should honor their fallen comrades.

To that end, the National Moment of Remembrance encourages all to share a moment of silence at 3 p.m. on Memorial Day in honor of all who have fallen in the service of our nation. With or without the parades and speeches, we should all remember those whose courage and sense of duty led them to give up their lives for our freedom and well being.

Memorial Day will still start a strange summer this year. But let’s not forget what it is all about.

So, what are you doing for Memorial Day?