The unofficial start of summer is here - the Memorial Day weekend, the first of three long summertime holiday weekends. The state parks will be opening for picnics and swimming, backyard grills will be grilling, and most of us will get a three-day holiday weekend. Memorial Day (formerly known as Decoration Day) will be observed on Monday, May 30th and is a solemn day to remember those who gave their lives in  the service of our country.

According to a special Memorial Day website, there are recommended ways that we can observe Memorial Day:

"* by visiting cemeteries and placing flags or flowers on the graves of our fallen heroes.

* by visiting memorials.

* by flying the U.S. Flag at half-staff until noon.

* by flying the 'POW/MIA Flag' as well (Section 1082 of the 1998 Defense Authorization Act).

* by participating in a "National Moment of Remembrance": at 3 p.m. to pause and think upon the true meaning of the day, and for Taps to be played.

* by renewing a pledge to aid the widows, widowers, and orphans of our falled dead, and to aid the disabled veterans."