Memorial Day has become the unofficial start of summer. For many, this past Monday meant the end of the school year, a trip to the lake, grilling with friends and family, or maybe catching Hollywood’s latest blockbuster. While all of these are good things, I’m afraid in all of the fun activities we’ve lost some of the spirit behind this important holiday.

The origins of the day began after the Civil War when small groups of people would gather in towns across America to remember those lost on the battlefield. After World War I the entire nation solidified behind a single day of the year to honor those who died serving the U.S. military.  Over time, the holiday evolved into a day of remembrance for all loved ones who are no longer with us. Today, there is a growing movement to refine the meaning of the day yet again. This time, it’s to make community service a part of the observance. I’m personally thrilled that this sentiment is taking root because I can think of no better way to honor the brave souls who have served our nation than to serve the communities in which we live.

Over the holiday weekend, I was honored to participate in Stewardship Capital’s efforts to pay tribute to various first responders in the area. These individuals put their lives on the line every day for our community and, much like our soldiers overseas, often make the ultimate sacrifice in the line of duty.

This was the first year I participated in one of these events and the experience was instrumental in helping me remember the sacrifice others have made on my behalf. I would strongly encourage those reading this to make community service a part of their future Memorial Day celebrations as well.