Throughout time, people have taken the loss of human life seriously. We know from reading the bible humanity struggled with the loss of family and friends, and nothing has changed even though these times of instant contact through our phones and the internet.

Following the Civil War, women in the South would decorate the graves of those who died in the war; thus, Decoration Day was born.

The origin of this day has some mystery to it as there have been many places claiming to be a place of origination of Decoration Day; however, the actual origin is a bit mysterious. We do know the event seems to have started in the South and then spread to the northern states.

From 1868 through 1970, Decoration/Memorial Day was always observed on May 30, then changed to be celebrated on the last Monday of May. This change drew criticism as it also meant a three-day weekend, and some feared it would detract from the original purpose of the day.

As we consider this special day of remembrance, I, for one, recall some of my relatives who served our country during war times. My great-grandmother was not in the military, but worked at Wright Patterson Air Force Base during World War II as a cook, and she had a lot of interaction with the military during that time. I consider her one worthy of my remembrance on this special day.

My step-grandpa was a member of the United States Army, and his unit spent three and a half years in the combat zone of the Pacific. He would share a few stories with me, but it was easy to see that he limited himself to how much he would mention. I knew three of my great-uncles, and they all served during World War II. Although all of the relatives mentioned returned home, they did not return the same as when they left home.

During my lifetime, I knew many who died in a war of some kind. Most of those I knew were killed during the Vietnam War; I call it a war because we were there so long and lost over 58,000 Troops. For those, we also mourn the significant loss.

We also mourn the loss of military life in Iraq, Afghanistan, and other regions of the Middle East. So much loss in all the wars of our lifetime. May we never forget why these men and women gave their all. We are the benefactors of the peace and freedom to live in our society.

The battle we are all in at this time is one of our well-being from a nasty virus. The culprit cannot be subdued by gunfire, but good hygiene and ethical decision-making where we go and with whom we meet. Granted, this is not an easy time, but let’s not forget those who have paid a great sacrifice for all of us to live free in this great country.

We celebrate Memorial Day differently this year. We may not gather as we once did, but we can certainly remember the fallen, and it’s still OK to get outside, so if you know the location of a veteran’s grave, decorate it. While you decorate the grave, give God thanks for the life that once upon a time helped keep us free from tyranny.

Dr. Michael Layne can be reached at 812-503-2170 or through,

Recommended for you