Each year, the Memorial Day weekend signals the start of summer. Pools will be opened. Beaches will be packed.
Backyard grills will be fired up and state and national parks will welcome visitors carrying picnic baskets. Cars will be gassed up for a long-awaited summer vacation or day trip, and the school year for many students has ended, or will be ending soon.
Communities will observe this federal holiday with festivals and parades. And flags will be displayed.
Memorial Day used to be known as Decoration Day, when families gathered to place flowers on graves. Families still gather to remember, and communities come together for solemn ceremonies to honor military men and women who have passed on.
There are a number of ceremonies that are open to the public this weekend. The Winchester-Frederick County Veterans Council will hold one of the largest at 10:30 a.m. Monday at Shenandoah Memorial Park in Frederick County.
Other memorial services include a 4 p.m. Sunday service at Maurertown Cemetery by the Maurertown Brethren Church, an 11 a.m. Monday service at Riverview Cemetery in Strasburg by the Strasburg American Legion Post 77, and an 11 a.m. Monday service honoring Vietnam veterans at the Shenandoah County VFW Post 2447 in Edinburg.
Enjoy your long weekend, but pause for a moment to reflect on the reason why Monday is a federal holiday.