With the van packed full of flowers and wreaths, many will make their way through the rows of those who have gone before us. I've never been very good at visiting cemeteries, so I'll leave this one up to my sister.

There are lots of things we disagree on, but that's one of the many privileges of being siblings. You can agree to disagree and carry on without making a fuss about it. Sometimes the only thing we can see eye-to-eye on is that we're sisters, a bond that can never be broken.

She probably started making wreaths for Memorial Day a month ago. She likes going to the cemetery, sprucing it up and decorating the headstones. I respect this tradition, but just can't wrap my mind around it. It's not their final resting place, in my opinion anyway. This may be where their body is buried but their souls are no longer there and I don't believe they'll hold it against me if I don't visit a concrete slab.

Perhaps I will think differently the older I become, but I have only visited mom's burial place twice and have not returned to dad's since the day he was put into the wall at the Veterans Cemetery in Higginsville.

For me, Memorial Day is one of the ways to pay tribute to the fallen servicemen and women and to serve as a reminder there are thousands of Americans who are currently risking their lives to protect our freedom. With so many controversies over traditions which have made this country strong and united, I wouldn't be surprised if there are also anti-Memorial Day folks buzzing around as well. All is never fair in love and war.

As reports come in of those who are killed or wounded, do we stop long enough to hear more than just their names listed? I just can't imagine the kind of mourning for a loved one who was willing to die doing a job few of us are capable or willing to do. How selfish of us to not recognize, daily, those who have given their lives so we can enjoy ours. 

Whether we are in agreement with the war in Iraq or not, the fact remains, American families are now dealing with either the loss of a loved one or the fear they may never return. Memorial Day should be more than just decorating the cemeteries with wreaths or flowers which will soon blow away. It's a day to embrace those we love, near to us or far, whether they're within our reach or just in our mind. It's more than an extra day added to the weekend. It's more than picnics, cookouts or a day at the lake. 

Memorial Day is a time to salute the living, pay tribute to those we've lost, but most of all, a reminder to never forget.

Sandy Turner is a Leavenworth Times columnist.