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Take time to honor your family, mentors

We have a suggestion for you today. Put away the lawmower and the garden tools for an hour or so this afternoon and visit a cemetery.

Memorial Day was first proclaimed in 1868 by a U.S. general in recognition of fallen soldiers. It was called Decoration Day back then, because it was a time when family members honored loved ones killed in battle by adorning their graves with flowers and wreaths.

Walk through any cemetery today and you will see that this tradition has been religiously maintained over the last 140 years.

If you visit Oakwood, Calvary, Grandview or any other nearby cemetery today you will find dozens of potted plants that have been placed on the graves of loves ones. Lavender petunias, pink begonias, white lillies, orange geraniums, yellow daisies.

Many of those being honored with sprays of floral color were soldiers, whose graves are adorned with U.S. flags. But many were not. Some were farmers, letter carriers, truckers lawyers, doctors, home builders and homemakers. But, more importantly, they were wives, husbands, sons, daughters, brothers and sisters.

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British Prime Minister Benjamin Disraeli said: "The legacy of heroes is the memory of a great name and the inheritance of a great example."

Not many of those buried in Oakwood or any other cemetery we might choose to visit today had great names, at least not in the eyes of the public at large. But we were all influenced by a great example. And in the end, that’s the most important thing any one of us has to offer.

So visit a cemetery today. Take in the aroma of freshly mown grass and new rain and potted begonias. Listen to the blackbirds converse and the wind saunter through the maples.

Pause at the grave of someone who had an impact on your life. Maybe a parent or grandparent from whom you inherited your values. Or a teacher or coach who kept her faith in you when you had all but lost it yourself. Or a mentor who helped you appreciate the value of hard work, dedication and loyalty.

Or a soldier, who paid the ultimate sacrifice for their country. For us.

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