BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (WIAT) – Since its inception as a federal holiday, Memorial Day has been a time for remembrance, to honor and celebrate the lives of the veterans who gave their all serving and protecting the freedoms cherished in the United States.
On Monday, whether at the Veterans Memorial in Liberty Park or the Alabama National Cemetery near Montevallo, friends and family searched for the names of the fallen.
James Pratt, a World War II veteran, finally found his brother’s name on the wall at the Veteran’s Memorial.
“It means a lot. He’s my older brother, and we still miss him,” Pratt said.
Stephen Whitley, a Navy veteran, took his first trip to the Memorial on Monday.
“You know, it is Memorial Day, so we want to honor those who went before us and made it possible for us to be here,” Whitley explained.
But while so many friends and family members celebrate the holiday the way it was meant to be celebrated, many people believe Memorial Day and Veterans Day, don’t hold the same reverence as they once did.
“I don’t think it’s as honored as much as it used to be,” Pratt stated.
“I don’t think the generations coming up have any idea what people have sacrificed,” Whitley said.
So what can be done to make the holidays dedicated to the nation’s servicemen and women revered once again, as they should be?
Well, perhaps that starts with the non-veterans.
Edward Watkins, has spent 30 years serving and protecting stateside as a police officer, a courageous and commendable profession in its own right.
“I think we take it for granted,” Watkins said.
Watkins, the son of a Korean War veteran who is buried at the Alabama National Cemetery, sees exactly what many people in the United States have forgotten.
“I think if we got back to remembering the essence of what this country is built on and stands for, the world would be a better place,” Watkins said.
The question remains: what will it take for Americans to remember?
Copyright 2013 WIAT-TV CBS 42