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Monday is more than a day off work
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Monday is an annual event that for many in America simply means a three-day weekend, but for the families who have lost loved ones in wars, it takes on significantly more meaning.

Recently, the Times chronicled the story of Terry Denny, Durand, Ill., and his brother Roger who was killed in 1950 in the Korean War. Until a few months ago, Roger was missing and Terry and his family had no idea were he was. For many Memorial Days, the Denny family honored Roger's memory, but this year that all changes. Now, the Denny family has peace of mind.

Tragically, many military families will never get the closure the Dennys are enjoying this year. And that is a significant reason why we as a nation celebrate this holiday each year.

The day formerly known as Decoration Day in the United States, the last Monday in May, is held to honor those who have died in the nation's wars, according to Encyclopedia Britannica's Web site. The holiday originated during the American Civil War, sometime between 1861 and 1864 when citizens placed flowers on the graves of those who had been killed in battle. A number of places claimed to have been the birthplace of the holiday. Among them, Columbus, Miss., held a formal observance for both the Union and the Confederate dead in 1866, the Web site said. By congressional proclamation in 1966, Waterloo, New York, was cited as the birthplace, also in 1866, of the observance in the North.

While we all want to and should support our troops fighting terrorism the world over or cleaning up a flood or disaster somewhere in America, don't lose sight of the meaning of Memorial Day - the remembrance of soldiers who have died defending this nation.

If you need a reminder, stop by your local Veterans of Foreign Wars hall on a Friday night and ask an elderly veteran about his buddies from "the war." He or she will likely tell you some amazing stories while fighting back tears. You might hear stories of heroism in battle, or maybe just plain bad luck that caused their friends and comrades to lose their lives in war.

The memories and deeds of those buddies, family members and friends who are no longer with us are the people we need to honor this weekend no matter what you are doing to celebrate Memorial Day.