“We do not know one promise these men made, one pledge they gave, one word they spoke; but we do know they summed up and perfected, by one supreme act, the highest virtues of men and citizens. For love of country they accepted death, and thus resolved all doubts and made immortal their patriotism and their virtue.”

— James A. Garfield, May 30, 1868, Arlington National Cemetery

Manicuring the lawn at the cemetery, the earthy smell of freshly cut grass drifting in the warm May breeze stirred childhood memories. We felt Memorial Day was the most important day in the United States calendar. We will always remember placing flowers and an American flag on each grave to honor those who sacrificed their lives for us. We marched in the parade honoring all the American soldiers who died fighting for our country.

We call it Memorial Day weekend because it is a three-day celebration. It is celebrated on the last Monday in the month of May. This year it will be celebrated on May 25. Communities and towns all over the United States host Memorial Day Parades every year. On this day, people visit the graves of dead soldiers; families and friends get together for picnics and cookouts. This holiday has been an outstanding way to collect the old and young together. As a group, they are increasing unity in the country.

In 1873, New York was the first state to designate Memorial Day as a legal holiday. By the late 1800s, many more communities and cities observed Memorial Day and several states declared it a legal holiday. After World War I, it became an occasion honoring those who died in all of America’s wars and became more widely established as a holiday throughout the United States.

We have had more than our share of wars. As we hear “Taps” at the gravesides, let’s pray for a peaceful world ”“ a world where fathers and mothers will come walking up the driveway every night after work.

Speaking of Memorial Day, the communities of Biddeford and Saco are inviting you to participate in the Biddeford-Saco Memorial Day Parade on Monday. The Heart of Biddeford is the organizer of the parade due to its mission of preserving the area’s history and pride.

HOB Director Delilah Poupore hopes there will be another big turnout for the parade. “It’s important to take this time to honor those who have served our country,” she said. “It’s also a time for veterans to be reminded of the support there is in our community, including from groups like Am- Vets and the American Legion.”

The opening ceremony of the parade will begin at 9:30 a.m. at Biddeford’s Veterans Memorial Park with State Sen. Linda Valentino as master of ceremonies and George “Pete” Lamontagne as grand marshal. Leigh Olson, a historian at the Rebecca Emery Chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution, will be the guest speaker.

Following the parade, a luncheon will be served at the AmVets Post 1 at 147 Alfred St. in Biddeford. For those who need a ride to the parade’s start, Bentley’s Bus will pick up riders at the Biddeford American Legion Post 25, at 508 Elm St., at 9 a. m. After the parade, the bus will return riders to the American Legion.

— Zaffie Hadiaris of Saco is the host of “Zaffie,” a weekly television talk show on Channel 3 Biddeford public access. It can also be seen at biddefordmaine.org. Contact Hadiaris at [email protected]