FORT BRAGG, N.C. (Army News Service, May 21, 2009) -- Memorial Day is more than just a Monday where we get to take the day off from work each May. It is a day dedicated to the memories of the men and women who died in military service.

As we continue to watch Soldiers deploy to Iraq and Afghanistan, this is a day that deserves a special place in each of our hearts and minds for the sacrifices that our friends, families and co-workers continue to make while keeping our country free.

The day began as a way to commemorate the more thabn 600,000 lives lost in the Civil War. Surviving Soldiers remembered their fallen comrades and communities honored their sons and daughters lost at war.

The holiday was originally known as Decoration Day because of the custom of decorating the graves of fallen Soldiers with flowers and flags. Many citizens continue this observance by visiting cemeteries and memorials. In national cemeteries, volunteers still place flags on the graves.

This year, Memorial Day has an even broader meaning for me. I spent time with several families of fallen Soldiers at Victory Junction earlier this month. Speaking with them about their loved ones and the memories they have, reminded me that the moments I have with my husband are precious and should not be taken for granted. I had a chance to talk to some of the children of these heroes who left for their deployments, never realizing they would not make it home.

Watching these families try to find their new normal and deal with their grief while continuing to live their own lives was a testament to the strength of the Army Family.

I will also reflect on the Soldiers who sacrifice their lives and serve their country without recognition, the Soldiers who serve in our Special Operations community. These men and women serve with a pride and honor that they can't share with anyone. They go on missions that we may never hear about, knowing that their names will not be publicized if they don't make it home.

As I think of the servicemembers who have given their lives, I will also think of the ones still risking their lives. Soldiers who are currently deployed or getting ready to deploy. I hope they remain safe and are able to come back home.

Soldiers will continue to protect our country and our way of life. They will perform the mission that others may shrink from and they put themselves in harm's way to protect people they may never know.

Instead of just sitting around and watching TV this Monday, remember the Soldiers that we live and work around each day. Thank a Soldier for their service and remember those who are no longer able to serve.

(Eve Meinhardt writes for the Paraglide newspaper at Fort Bragg, N.C.)