As Memorial Day approaches on Monday, we give thanks to the men and women in the armed forces who work so valiantly to ensure that we continue to enjoy the freedoms to which we've become accustomed.

Again this year we show our special appreciation to those who have been sent to distant parts of the globe to fight for peace. We pray for their safe return.

Memorial Day was founded in May, 1866, to honor the hundreds of thousands who died in the Civil War. That was the war in which more Americans gave their lives for their country than in all other wars combined, and it had ended just slightly more than one year earlier, in April 1865.

More recently, the custom of decorating the graves of deceased veterans was expanded to include all those dear to us who have gone before.

Many of us in the Courierarea will be honoring deceased loved ones this weekend. Throughout the nation, service organizations will hold ceremonies honoring those who have died serving their country.

Let's not miss this opportunity to teach our young children that Memorial Day is much more than a time to have barbecues and get a day off from school.

Monday is the day of the year when we pay appropriate homage and remembrance to those who have gone before.

Former Michigan Governor Jennifer Granholm said it best: "Ceremonies are important. But our gratitude has to be more than visits to the troops, and once-a-year Memorial Day ceremonies. We honor the dead best by treating the living well."

Please, find time this weekend to honor all who have passed your way and contributed to your life.