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Recognizing Memorial Day

Recognizing Memorial Day
May 29, 2024 Billy George

Memorial Day originated in 1868, three years after the Civil War ended, and was established by the organization of Union veterans, the Grand Army of the Republic (GAR), as Decoration Day, a time for the nation to decorate the graves of fallen veterans with flowers. Maj. Gen. John A. Logan declared it should be the last Monday in May, for the practical reason–flowers would be abundantly in bloom.*

This weekend in between travel, soccer matches and spring storms, I had the opportunity to visit with my mother and discuss veterans in our family, most specifically, my great-uncle, 1st Lt. James G. Ruder who served with the 60th Armored Infantry Battalion during WWII. He was killed in action in Luxembourg the day after Christmas in 1944. His harrowing story is unfortunately not unique. Almost every family can tell a similar tale of sacrifice and loss.

It’s been over 150 years since the first Memorial Day, but the meaning is still profound. Thank you to all the men and women who have served our county and paid the ultimate sacrifice. And thank you to their families who have learned to endure their loss. May we always remember the price of freedom is never free.

Andrea Schultz Winter is the Executive Director for the Greater Freeport Partnership. She can be reached at or 815-233-1354.

*Source: U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs.