SUNNYSIDE — Today, the Friday before Memorial Day, is the unofficial kickoff of summer. Lower Yakima Valley residents are planning camping trips, days boating on the Columbia River and barbecuing in their backyards. And some will be hitting the road to visit family.

But not all.

Many residents will be putting the Stars and Stripes on veterans’ graves. Some will be laying wreaths on the water. And many will attend other Memorial Day observances.

Monday, Memorial Day, is a solemn day to remember those war heroes who died defending American ideals and freedoms.

In our nation’s history, more than 1.3 million Americans have died in war. And with our troops stationed around the world, the death toll keeps rising.

We still have men and women overseas keeping a vigilant watch over our safety, and that of the world. Many of them won’t be able to boat, barbecue or even see family.

But you can bet they’ll be remembering the soldier, seaman, airman or Marine who came before them.

Memorial Day observances are planned in Outlook, Sunnyside, Prosser, Zillah and Grandview, among other locations. We encourage you to attend one of the observances and remember why you have the opportunity to celebrate this weekend.

Take a child along, and teach them what Memorial Day is all about.

After that, you will still have all summer to boat, barbecue and travel.

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