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Our View: Remember the fallen heroes on Memorial Day while starting summer, restarting normalcy | COMMENTARY

Just as last year was a different kind of Memorial Day, in the early stages of a global pandemic that had shut everything down, so, too, is this year’s Memorial Day. It’s not only the unofficial start to another summer but the unofficial start to the resumption of normalcy.

We won’t lose sight of the holiday and what it means. It is a solemn occasion.

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While families will be making trips to Ocean City or jumping into pools just opened for the season or firing up the grill for backyard barbecues in celebration of a warm-weather, three-day holiday weekend, or even heading out to mattress sales armed with stimulus money, everyone should be taking time to focus on honoring fallen military members. Please remember the heroes who gave all in sacrifice to our country, protecting our way of life, and think about their families as well.

While some ceremonies, such as the longstanding parade in Westminster, were canceled for a second year in a row, others are carrying on. There will be the traditional ceremony at Pleasant Valley Ceremony, including the placement of flags on veterans’ graves, on Sunday afternoon. There will be the traditional ceremony Monday at Historic Pine Grove Chapel in Mount Airy, including the playing of “Taps,” on Monday. There will be a ceremony Monday morning at the War Memorial in Taneytown Memorial Park, complete with gun salute, as well as the resumption of the once-traditional parade down Main Street, beginning at 1 p.m.

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If you can, exercise your freedom to attend, and pay your respects. And even if you cannot, take a moment on Monday to reflect on those who gave their lives for our freedom.

It’s also worth reflecting on how far we’ve come in the past year. At this time last year, in addition to remembrance ceremonies being canceled and large backyard gatherings essentially being illegal, students were not in school. And seniors not only didn’t have a traditional graduation ceremony to attend, they also had no real Senior Week at the beach to look forward to. Hotels and restaurants were either closed or facing massive restrictions.

Now, with Carroll County coming off its lowest week for positive COVID-19 tests since mid-October people can, essentially, do whatever they want. Go maskless into most businesses. Sit inside a restaurant for dinner at full capacity. Throw a big blowout pool party. Head “downy ocean.”

Of course, not everyone will feel totally safe. Nor should they. The percentage of Carroll residents vaccinated is rising, but too slowly, with 53.2% of the overall county population having received at least one dose and 45.2% fully immunized. Adolescents have been coming out in good numbers to vaccine clinics the past two weeks at TownMall of Westminster — nearly 2,000 of them — but people aged 20 to 40 seem to be in no hurry to get jabbed.

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That is their right, just another of the freedoms secured for us by those we remember this Memorial Day. But imagine how those who made the ultimate sacrifice might look at those who can’t be bothered to get vaccinated for the good of all society? Probably about the same way they would’ve looked at those who viewed donning a mask at a grocery store as too great a sacrifice.

We ask that everyone observe Memorial Day in their own way. And to those celebrating the start of summer in the “normal” way they couldn’t a year ago, we urge everyone to be safe around the grill and pool and to drive safely, whether to and from parties or the Eastern Shore.

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