Honoring Our Heroes: Reflecting on Sacrifice and Service this Memorial Day

While many consider Memorial Day as the official kickoff to summer and celebrate with a day of grilling with friends and family, this national holiday was created to honor the sacrifice of America’s fallen soldiers. 

Memorial Day is not a day to celebrate Veterans for their service – Veterans Day is set aside for that. Rather, it is a solemn day to remember those who died while serving and to reflect on their sacrifices and those of the families they left behind.

Every year on Memorial Day, a moment of remembrance is held at 3 p.m. local time. Across West Virginia – and the nation – communities honor the sacrifices of our service members. This year, mark your calendars for the following.

Where: Dunbar, West Virginia

The Donel C. Kinnard Memorial State Veterans Cemetery invites you to the annual Flag Retirement Ceremony on Monday, May 27, 2024 at 12:00 PM. Located at 130 Academy Drive in Dunbar, this ceremony is in its 11th year and is a way to properly and respectfully retire these flags. Torn, tattered and faded flags can be brought on the day of the event, but the West Virginians are encouraged to bring flags that are ready for retirement to the Veterans Cemetery any time during the year.

Have a Memorial Day event that is not listed above? Let us know by submitting an event.

First observed as a way to honor fallen Civil War soldiers, General John Logan of the Grand Army of the Republic declared May 30, 1868, as Decoration Day. From there, New York was the first state to designate Memorial Day as a holiday, with its national observation increasing following the first World War. But, Memorial Day did not become an official national holiday until the Uniform Monday Holiday Act of 1971. 

So, this year on Memorial Day weekend, amidst the picnics, BBQs and “blowout sales” that have sometimes seemed to usurp the purpose of this day of remembrance, we urge you to honor the intent of the day – those who have fallen in service to our country, their sacrifice and their families. 

If you or a loved one are a West Virginia Veteran, the West Virginia Department of Veterans Assistance is here for you. From providing guidance as you submit a VA claim to resources for tax or education benefits, we can help.

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