HINESVILLE, Ga. - Soldiers of 3rd Infantry Division participated in ceremonies in Hinesville and Glennville, May 26, to remember and celebrate fallen service members.

Memorial Day started as Decoration Day on May 30, 1886, as a time to decorate the graves of fallen American soldiers who fought in the Civil War. Over time the day evolved to celebrate service members who died in all American wars.

The ceremony in Hinesville began with music by the 3rd ID Band, known as the Rhythm of the Marne, and the posting of the colors by a detail of six soldiers from 3rd Battalion, 7th Infantry Regiment, 4th Infantry Brigade Combat Team, 3rd ID.

"We're here today, to cherish the blood and treasure that our soldiers have willingly given for us to secure our freedom," said Brig. Gen. James Blackburn Jr., 3rd ID deputy commanding general for maneuver, in his address to the crowd at the Hinesville American Legion Memorial Day Ceremony.

"While the purpose of Memorial Day is to remember and honor our soldiers who died in service to our country, we also need to also remember and honor the families of the soldiers that made this ultimate sacrifice, our Gold Star families," said Blackburn.

At the Georgia Veterans Memorial Cemetery in Glennville, members of the community came together to honor Georgia natives who have fallen since last memorial day, including Sgt. Stefan Smith, an infantryman with 3rd Battalion, 15th Infantry Regiment, 4th IBCT, who was a Ludowici native.

"It's not just a cemetery, but it's considered a shrine to the veterans that served," said Ernie Cowart, director of the Georgia Veterans Memorial Cemetery in Glennville, which is one of two state veteran cemeteries in Georgia.

Cowart not only coordinated the event, but also served as the main presenter, gave a welcome speech and introduced the other speakers, including the mayor of Glennville. Soldiers from Company A, 4-3 Brigade Special Troops Battalion, 4th IBCT, provided the color guard for the event, and stood proudly with the national and battalion colors throughout the ceremony.

"During times of conflict everyone tends to be patriotic and support the troops," Cowart said. "I just hope as the conflict in Afghanistan winds down, that they'll realize the importance of this holiday so we can continue to support the veterans that have served and those that have passed and recognize their sacrifice to this country."

On Memorial Day the U.S. flag is raised at sunset and then lowered to half-mast, and at noon the flag is raised again to the top of the flag pole until sunset.

"This half-staff position serves as a reminder to honor the over 1.3 million Americans who have given their lives in defense of our nation," said Blackburn.

"I challenge each of us to not to forget the history, the meaning, the sacrifice, the purpose of Memorial Day," concluded Blackburn.