Remembering those who died
Remembering those who died
Monday is Memorial Day.
Most of us probably think of Memorial Day weekend as the beginning of summer. And that is a reasonable thought. After all, schools are either out for the summer or down to their final days. Same with graduations. We have two graduations coming up locally this week, Byron and Hayfield on Friday. And Kasson-Mantorville and Triton will graduate the seniors next weekend.
We are putting the long winter and the on-again, off-again, spring behind us. Gardens are being planted, summer vacations planned, and summer fairs and festivals are on the horizon. To say nothing of the road construction that greets Minnesotans every year.
But somewhere among all the fun we may wonder just how did we get this holiday and why the name Memorial Day?
The reason is a lot more somber.
Memorial Day was originally called Decoration Day because it was a day to decorate the gravestones of those who died during the Civil War. It began just a year or two after that conflict was over and the scars and the pain were still visible and raw. People wanted to remember the sacrifices those mostly men made to keep the United States unified.
For many years it was a reminder of the Civil War, but then came World War I, World War II, Korea, Vietnam. Iraq and Afghanistan were added to list. New wars, new servicemen and women who gave everything they had for their country.
In 1968, Congress set the date of what had come to be called Memorial Day on the last Monday of May and declared it a national holiday. That also made it automatically a three-day weekend each year.
It is good to celebrate the beginning of summer this coming weekend. And on Memorial Day, Veterans Day and other days it is good to thank the veterans in our midst for their service, as many do.
But let’s also take a little time this Memorial Day to remember the original, and the real, purpose of the day.
That the freedoms we enjoy did not come easily. There was a cost, a human cost. And over the years since our founding, millions of men and women have gone off to fight for those freedoms and many never returned.
So, let’s take a little time this Monday to remember those servicemen and women. The ones who answered the call, went off to serve, but never got a chance to be honored as veterans.
Minnesota charts a new course
The 2023 Legislative Session is now history. Depending on your political persuasion, you may be glad it’s over before any more damage is done or you are glad it’s over because now many important and good decisions have been made.
Whichever way you look at it, Minnesota has charted a new course, especially in relation to other parts of the United States.
Some states have adopted restrictive abortion bans while Minnesota has passed legislation preserving abortion rights. Gun reforms will now include background checks to private sales and expand laws to curb domestic violence and suicide.
Voting rights will be expanded, including for non-incarcerated felons.
There will be free school meals for all students in K-12, and public universities and colleges will be free for families making under $80,000. There will be mandated paid sick days for most working Minnesotans and also a paid family and medical leave program.
For most senior citizens in the state Social Security income will not be taxed and families and individuals earning under $75,000 will be getting modest rebate checks.
And, of course, in one of the most watched bills by the public, recreational cannabis use will be legal and lower-level offenses will be expunged from the record.
Much of the funding will come from the more than $17.5 billion surplus but new taxes have also been added including a gas tax indexed to inflation, corporate tax changes, higher license tab fees and metro sales taxes.
That’s a lot to digest from one Legislative session. All we can do now is to stay tuned and see what happens.