Memorial Day is set aside as an observation of those who gave their lives in service in the United States armed forces — those who will never experience another day of sweet freedom and the American lifestyle that is so coveted around the world.

So often, it seems, we lose our perspective and Memorial Day helps us regain a sense of gratitude for what others have done for us through sacrifice. We go about our daily lives, with opposing views, financial and relationship stresses, comparing ourselves to others who seem to have it a little better or worse than we do, arguing over political, religious, and cultural differences, and trying to gain an edge against our neighbor so we don’t
lose our place in line… or in the pecking order.

We don’t all go to such extremes of course but there can be no doubt the state and national discourse, especially between major political or religious factions, has reached a fervor that has impacted even the most neutral parties — almost as if the developing culture is demanding people take sides.

The message today is quite distant from the melodic chant of “one nation, indivisible” that stitched two parts of the Pledge of Allegiance together in 1892. The volume and demands of partisanship seem to be elevating.

My great-grandfather immigrated to the United States in 1856 from Sweden. A few years later, the Civil War broke out — calling for even the pacifist to choose a side. My family lived in New York, and then Minnesota, so I’d guess we were Union soldiers, but I have yet to discover what extent my great-grandfather participated in a war in his new country that broke out only five years after his arrival to the New World.

The Civil War cost more U.S. lives than any other war — 1.03 million died — and inspired Decoration Day, which was renamed Memorial Day in 1967. Decoration Day was named for the strewing of flowers or other decoration of graves of those who died to change this country.

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So as we celebrate Memorial Day, the freedom of our American lifestyle, our friendships and brotherhoods, and the great country we all love and cherish, let’s remember that we celebrate Memorial Day because some things are worth fighting for, and some things are worth dying for. But let’s also recall that this day of remembrance began because the nation of the United States of America was divided and did not come to agreement on issues of civil and human rights that all people deserve — or as prescribed in the Declaration of Independence, the inalienable rights of “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.”

All those who died, who we honor in our solemnity on Memorial Day, died for a promise to protect the highest ideals of citizenship ever adopted by any nation, but we continue to evolve our understanding and application of those ideals. In pursuit of ulterior ideals, we still impede life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness but we are getting better in a relatively short period of time — 151 years since the first Decoration Day is a blink of an eye, and the next 151 years will go by even faster.

Remember the fallen but remember why they gave their lives and why we decorated the first graves as a country and remember that some who will give their lives have not yet been conceived.

Estrella Adobe Memorial Celebration

Friends of the Adobes, Inc., will host a nondenominational service at the Estrella Adobe Church on Airport Road, north of Paso Robles Airport. Traditional hymns will be sung with accompaniment at this annual event. Quester members will provide refreshments. Enjoy self-guided tours through the church grounds and old cemetery. Call 805-467-3357 or
visit Rios-Caledonia Adobe on Facebook for more information.

Paso Robles District Cemetery Memorial Day Program

Monday, May 27 at 11 a.m.
Paso Robles District Cemetery,
45 Nacimiento Lake Drive, Paso Robles.
In cooperation with American Legion Post 50 and VFW Post 10965, the commemoration will feature an 11 am military flyover in V-formation by Estrella Warbird Museum’s Freedom Flight. Guest speakers, patriotic songs, Pledge of Allegiance, wreath laying, a closing prayer and Honor Guard. Call Tom or Brian at 805-238-4544.

Templeton District Cemetery and American Legion Post 220

Monday, May 27 at 11 a.m.
Ceremony at Templeton Cemetery,
100 Cemetery Road, Templeton.
American Legion Hall Post 220 will honor
local veterans in a Patriotic Ceremony at Templeton Cemetery and Estrella Warbird flyover at
approximately 11:05 a.m. The commemoration will be followed by a Legion Hall barbecue (limited tickets available at the door) beginning at noon at 801 South Main Street, Templeton.
For pre-event tickets please call Les Nye at
805-434-1402 for more information.

Atascadero Cemetery

Monday, May 27 at 11 a.m.
The cemetery will have a commemorative
Memorial Day flyover above the Atascadero Cemetery to honor our departed veterans at 11:09 am. The flight, in V-formation, will be performed by Estrella Warbird Museum pilots of the Vietnam combat era.

Atascadero Faces of Freedom Veteran’s Memorial

Monday, May 27 at noon
8951 Morro Road (Hwy. 41)
Atascadero, SLO County Faces of Freedom Veterans Memorial
The impressive memorial sculpture onsite depicts an American soldier in a pantheon of other historic military heroes. Stretched across an open courtyard are nine, seven-foot-tall panels that form a 70-foot-long wall. Inscribed in granite are over 231 names of soldiers from SLO County who died while defending our nation. Freedom Flight will soar overhead in formation at 12:10 p.m. Call 805-462-1267 for more information.

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