MINOT, N.D. (KXNET) — The United States is hundreds of years old, but some of its most famous traditions are even older — like Memorial Day, which originated in the years following the Civil War and became an official federal holiday in 1971. While most of us celebrate with a long weekend, some local families have their own traditions when it comes to remembering our fallen heroes.
“The best way to honor the sacrifice of those that have fallen in service to our country is to make sure that we remain the kind of nation they were committed to defending–The United States of America,” said retired U.S. Marine Corps Major, Trygve Hammer. “A country still dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal, and to the principles of equality, liberty, and justice for all.”
Traditions are something we all have, and they’re also are what Minot’s Memorial Day Ceremony is all about. One local family has a tradition of their own on Memorial Day. It starts with the Ceremony, and ends with laying pennies on veterans’ headstones.
The tradition behind laying coins on Veteran’s gravestones started thousands of years ago. Different coins have different meanings. A quarter left by someone means they physically were with the service member when they died, a nickel is left by someone who served with the deceased veteran, and a penny signifies company to the gravestone. The Warren family lays pennies at the Veterans Section in Rosehill Memorial Park every year to visit our heroes who gave so much.
“We do this every year, so we are just used to it,” says 11-year-old Blake Warren. “We always like to do it to represent everybody that fought in our wars to protect us. So, it’s nice to do this for everybody that has lost their lives to protect ours.”
Silvia Rau’s Memorial Day tradition also always begins with attending the ceremony by her Navy veteran husband’s side — but this was the first year she attended alone after her husband recently passed.
“We came every year to this service because he was a veteran,” she explains, “and he really liked to do Navy things. So, I’ve got one of his badges on that’s from one of his hats. I felt like a part of the community then because he was part of it. And I thought that if I went out on my own, nobody recognized me, but when I was with him, they always recognized me. And I felt quite proud to be beside him.”
They say you die two deaths. One, when you take your last breath, and another when people stop saying your name. While the first death cannot be prevented, the second can by making sure our fallen heroes are not forgotten– and that’s what gives these people the strength to carry on traditions.