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Tomorrow is Memorial Day: a day for Americans to honor the memory of U.S. service members who lost their lives while serving in the armed forces. The holiday originated as Decoration Day in the 1860s after the Civil War. It became an official federal holiday in 1971 and was moved to the final Monday in May to create a three-day weekend.

The decision to use Memorial Day to create a three-day weekend, as well as the fact that it marks the unofficial beginning of summer for retailers, has garnered some criticism from veterans organization, as some Americans merely celebrate their day off without considering the origins and purpose of the holiday.

The sentiment is compounded by the fact that the day is sometimes confused with Veterans Day, a separate federal holiday in November.

While both days are directly connected to the U.S. armed forces, they were established for different reasons and serve different purposes.

Veterans Day originated as Armistice Day in 1918 to honor the end of World War I. Veterans Day has been set aside to honor veterans of all U.S. wars, alive and deceased.

There’s nothing wrong with enjoying a three-day weekend. Memorial Day is a great weekend to relax with family and enjoy the beginning of summer break. But all Americans should spend some time this weekend remembering those who made the ultimate sacrifice to preserve our way of life. That’s what this weekend is truly about.

Two local events provide Cleveland County residents an opportunity to honor fallen soldiers. American Legion Post 88 of Norman will observe Memorial Day at the IOOF Cemetery Monday, beginning at 11 a.m. The event will include the Norman Police Department Honor Guard. The public is invited, and the IOOF Cemetery is at Porter Avenue and Rock Creek Road.

The American Legion also will conduct services at Warren Cemetery in Brookhaven at 2 p.m. on Sunday.

The Moore Memorial Day Ceremony takes place on Monday at 10 a.m. at Veterans Memorial Park, 1900 SE 4th St. The ceremony includes speakers from the Bruce January Veterans of Foreign Wars Post and the Moore American Legion Post 184.

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