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360 Blog: In the midst of the coronavirus pandemic, let's reclaim the purpose of Memorial Day

Get it straight: The difference between Veterans Day and Memorial Day
Posted at 3:34 PM, May 22, 2020
and last updated 2020-05-22 21:09:26-04

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DENVER -- Memorial Day is folding chairs on the lawn and beer in coolers. It's hot dogs and burgers on the grill. It's taking the boat out or rekindling a friendship with someone who owns a boat. It's a Rockies game, camping, maybe the parade and a merciful day off work.

But since it can't be that this year, how about we make it what it was supposed to be? A day to honor the men and women who died serving in the U.S. military.

The numbers are staggering. More than 1.1 million U.S. service members have died in America's armed conflicts.

Let's make that more personal: 3,242 Coloradans were killed in World War II. Twenty-four of those died in prison camps. Can you imagine? Nine more are still listed as missing.

The Vietnam War claimed the lives of 623 people from Colorado.

At least five Coloradans died in the Persian Gulf War and deaths are still being sorted out from the Global War on Terror.

Those aren't history book statistics. Those are us. A lot of those young men and women shopped at King Soopers and cheered for the Broncos.

After 244 years, it's easy to take for granted that the military is necessary for our country to exist. To serve in that necessary military is a noble thing.

And just as this pandemic has brought renewed appreciation for things like health, family and jobs, let's also use it to renew our appreciation for those who died in uniform.

That chalk art you've gotten so good at? How about making a patriotic message or picture in the neighborhood this weekend, or better yet, in front of the house of someone who lost a loved one in the service?

Maybe you could visit a national cemetery Monday? Take the kids. Start a tradition. All three national cemeteries in Colorado — Fort Logan, Pikes Peak and Fort Lyon — are open Memorial Day.

You could make a donation to a charitable organization or simply take a moment to remember and reflect.

We may be missing the things we usually do on Memorial Day but maybe that's not such a bad thing if it means reclaiming the purpose of this sacred day.

To all of you who lost loved ones in the armed forces, his or her service mattered and it's being remembered today.