Swimming pools are open, barbecues are heating up, and families and friends are catching up on past happenings.
Memorial Day is here, but Jerry Still, a retired Air Force Reserve major general from Bethlehem, believes many Americans have forgotten what this day is truly about.
Although, he noted, Nazareth area residents may have proved him wrong before he gave a speech to a crowd that easily stretched from Nazareth Borough Council Chambers to the ball field at the end of the block.
Just before his speech, Nazareth’s annual Memorial Day parade marched through the center of town. The parade stopped twice: first in front of the Harold V. Knecht Post 415 American Legion, second in front of the VFW Post 4366, Pvt. Kenneth S. Bowers Post.
In addition to the playing of “Taps” in front of the American flags -- flown at half-staff -- there were three volleys of shots fired in honor of the deceased.
Following the parade, parade-goers gathered in front of council chambers for a Memorial Day ceremony.
The Nazareth Blue Eagle Marching Band performed “The Star-Spangled Banner” and “Battle Hymn of the Republic.” The Nazareth Area Middle School band also performed patriotic tunes.
Still, who was a member of the 314th Airlift Wing and 514th Air Mobility Wing, then took the podium, giving a short history behind Armed Forces Day, Veterans Day and, finally, Memorial Day.
The roots of Memorial Day started, Still explained, with women's groups in the South. The women would decorate the graves of Confederate soldiers.
Memorial Day was officially proclaimed on May 5, 1868 by Gen. John Logan, the national commander of the Grand Army of the Republic, and was first observed on May 30, 1868, when flowers were placed on the graves of Union and Confederate soldiers at Arlington National Cemetery.
For a more detailed background, visit www.usmemorialday.org.
Still had a clear reason for giving the history of Memorial Day: He wanted to remind every person attending Nazareth’s Memorial Day events why they had a three-day weekend.
“Never forget the home front -- the uncles, brothers, mothers -- those who supported us while we were overseas,” Still said. “And never forget the sacrifices given by others for the freedom we enjoy.”