Our Voice: Today we remember those who have died in service

Memorial Day typically marks the unofficial beginning of summer. Many people have a long weekend to celebrate and relax, and the weather is starting to get nice, almost hot. Lots of folks will go camping or have a BBQ. Boats will be on the water and food will be on the grill. It’s a day to spend time with friends and family.

May we recommend you also make time today to visit a cemetery. On Memorial Day, they tend to be active with ceremonies and visitors, as well as colorful with flags and flowers.

One of our favorite spots in the Mid-Columbia to visit on Memorial Day is Sunset Memorial Gardens on the bypass highway in Richland because of its more than 1,000 full-size U.S. flags blowing in the breeze on that one day. Each one has a metal tag on the pole with the name engraved of someone who served in the military that is buried in that cemetery. It’s an awe-inspiring sight.

It’s one of the events worth going to in the Mid-Columbia, and there are others. Check out today’s paper for a list of Memorial Day services in the Mid-Columbia.

For every man or woman who volunteers for the armed forces, a support team of friends and family waits at home.

Our hearts are warmed by the swell of videos on social media where a child or a parent is unexpectedly greeted by their serviceman or woman. Their surprise is captured on video and the sweet reunions go viral on Facebook. They are touching and they bring us a smile — and sometimes a tear.

But our hearts are especially full for the families who have their loved one return home in a casket.

We can’t imagine what that pain must be. And we know that many families today are grieving the loss of a loved one. Our hearts and thoughts go out to those families today.

Only 1 percent of the population serves in the military, but nearly all the population takes the day off school or work to celebrate Memorial Day — with the exception, ironically, of the 1 percent. The military is at work 24/7, and their families miss them the whole time.

It often is a thankless job. Today, we say thank you to those who serve and have served our country — and thank you to their families.