At one of many Memorial Day ceremonies held around Minnesota, U.S. Sen. Rod Grams said he is co-sponsoring legislation to return the holiday to the traditional date of May 30, instead of observing it on a Monday.
The Minnesota Republican spoke Monday to about 2,500 people gathered at Fort Snelling National Cemetery in Minneapolis on a cool, overcast day.
''It kind of has gotten where it's been just blended into another long weekend, another holiday so people can have an extra day at the lake or an extra day off.
''And it really misses the purpose of Memorial Day, and that is to take time out to remember and to honor the servicemen and women and those, especially, who gave their lives. So we wanted to bring some of that tradition back so the young people today realize the sacrifices made so they could enjoy the freedoms that we have,'' Grams said.
Organizers of an annual parade in Duluth hope the event helps younger people remember the meaning of Memorial Day.
Rosie Stratioti, 69, this year's grand marshal, said she sometimes worries that younger people will forget what the day is all about. ''They think it's a three-day weekend for going fishing or having picnics,'' she said.
Stratioti's father, husband, brother-in-law and uncle all served during times of war. For 40 years, she has helped organize the parade to recognize soldiers' sacrifices.
This year's parade featured 69 units and lasted nearly an hour. Young people also took part, and veterans marched in memory of fallen comrades.
''It means a lot to me,'' said Mike Lewis, 11, who marched in the parade alongside fellow members of Boy Scout Troop No. 49. ''We're honoring veterans from Vietnam and other wars who gave their lives for their country.''
In Willmar, state Sen. Dean Johnson said recent news stories show what people are willing to do to enjoy freedom.
The Willmar DFLer, who is a National Guard colonel and chaplain, pointed out the stories of Elian Gonzalez and Cuban college baseball player Mario Miguel Chaoui, who defected earlier this month while in Minnesota.
''A young Cuban boy who with his mother attempted to get to the United States of America. The reason: they wanted to live in a free country,'' Johnson said during the ceremony at Fairview Cemetery. ''A Cuban baseball player who just two weeks ago while playing at St. Thomas ... defected and left for Florida. The reason: He wanted to live in a free land.''
Johnson said that freedom was purchased by the sacrifice of the men and women who fought for the United States and was ''paid for by a great price.''
Near the end of the ceremony, an airplane flew over and dropped a load of poppies into a nearby lake.
Brainerd Dispatch ©2013. All Rights Reserved.