Memorial Day weekend is the gateway to summer for many folks, especially in the upper Midwest when the weather normally takes a turn for the good. Families start planning vacations and students are itching to start their three-month break.

But Memorial Day itself on Monday has a much deeper meaning. It’s a day when we remember and honor those who gave the ultimate sacrifice, by giving their lives for this country in the line of duty.

All holidays have special meaning. There’s something different about Memorial Day. We all have heard historic stories of selfless men and women who have died for their country. For some, family members and friends are among the war dead.

To us, there is no greater deed than giving your life to protect your country.

Memorial Day is different than another holiday, Veterans Day, which honors all men and women who served in our country’s military.

Memorial Day began way back in 1868 when Gen. John A. Logan of the Grand Army of the Republic, an organization of Union veterans founded in Decatur, Illinois, established Decoration Day as a time for the nation to decorate the graves of the Union war dead with flowers.

The Confederate Army also honored those who died in battle. More than 600,000 soldiers died in the Civil War — that’s more casualties than both World War I (about 116,500) and World War II (about 405,000) combined.

In 1968, exactly 100 years after Decoration Day was established, Congress passed the Uniform Monday Holiday Act, which established Memorial Day as the last Monday in May, in order to create a three-day weekend for federal employees. But Memorial Day didn’t become an official federal holiday until 1971.

After World War I, the American Legion took over the duties of honoring the deceased.

The American Legion posts in this area do an incredible job with their programs. This is a milestone year for the Teddy Budlong-Robert Smith American Legion Post No. 39 in Marinette as it marks the 100-year anniversary of the founding of the post.

Memorial Day will see services in Marinette, Menominee, Crivitz, Hermansville, Silver Cliff and more. We encourage residents to attend one of these patriotic and stoic events.

The American Legion posts put on a sincere ceremony for their fallen comrades. There are bands, rifle salutes, taps, color guards, guest speakers and much more. We salute those veterans’ groups who take the time for these exceptional activities.

We also encourage residents to proudly display your American flag on Memorial Day and take time to remember what this holiday is all about.

It’s important to remember that our freedom is precious and should not be taken for granted. Remember, freedom is never free and if it wasn’t for those who fought for our freedom, we may not have that privilege.