Do modern Memorial Day traditions distract from true meaning?

TOPEKA, Kan (KSNT)  –  Across the country and here in Kansas, people recognize Memorial Day in very different ways. Whether, it’s placing flowers on a loved-one’s grave, grilling burgers with family or drinking with friends, these have all come to signify the modern day Memorial Day, but do they honor the true meaning of the day? With the majority of the country off from work, many people take the day to celebrate life with friends and family.

“We bring our tables and chairs out, so that we can talk with our neighbors and find new friends,” said Anton Ahrens.

Ahrens and his neighbors have been throwing a block party on Memorial Day in the 1400 block of Plass Street for decades. It’s a deeply held tradition that is becoming more and more rare across the country.

“We’re still trying to hold the block parties together. We still have fun visiting with each other invite neighbors here,” said Wayne Cottril, who went to his first block party with his wife 40 years ago.

But across town at the Great Overland Station Memorial Day looks very different. The Kansas Army National Guard and the Kansas Air National Guard honored the brave men and women during the annual Massing of The Colors event. The event included an armed color guard, dozens of flags and a three gun salute.

“As a combat medic it reminds me of all …. of all the men that I tried to save and died,” said Robert Goupil, a Vietnam Army veteran.

Groupil served as an Army medic during the Vietnam War. He said ceremonies like the one at the Great Overland Station honor the men and women who died for our country, which is the true purpose of Memorial Day. It’s a purpose Groupii said is lost on many Americans.

“Barbeques and family get-togethers are all good, but do we remember those that paid the ultimate price for that freedom. We must never never never forget,” said Goupil.

While they acknowledge it’s not always mentioned, the people on Plass Street believe the majority of Topekans do honor the brave men and women who died for their freedoms.

“What could you want more from Memorial Day then being able to memorialize those that’ve gone before us and who paid the ultimate price for our being able to share a day when we can just sit back and relax and enjoy,” said Ahrens.

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