Flags placed for Memorial Day mark veterans’ headstones at Evergreen Mortuary and Cemetery on North Oracle Road.

Commemorated annually on the last Monday of May, Memorial Day is a federal holiday set aside to honor the brave men and women of the U.S. military who have sacrificed their lives in the line of duty. The history of this distinguished holiday originated in the post-Civil War era and today includes everyone who served in the U.S. Army, Navy, Marine Corps, Air Force, the National Guard, Reserves and the Coast Guard.

While Memorial Day also allows Americans to enjoy a three-day weekend, acknowledge the start of summer, take advantage of sales, parties, barbecues and watch the Indy 500, that’s OK.

However, here are a few points to consider. Our nation is honoring those veterans who paid the ultimate price for America’s freedom. They accomplished incredible feats! They all had a piece of history! They all left an irreplaceable void and incredible pain within the families left behind.

Recognize the day. Take time during the weekend to honor these brave souls and their families with a moment of silence (3 p.m. local time), or by placing American flags or flowers at veterans’ grave sites.

Mention those who lost their lives, to include our wounded warriors, in prayer or grace before your burgers and dogs.

Another tradition that has picked up momentum is the wearing of the artificial Remembrance Red Poppy, a tradition inspired by the WWI poem “In Flanders Fields” and observed in the UK, Canada, Australia and New Zealand.

There are a half million veterans living in Arizona. Tucson is extremely proud to base and host many of these Vets. The Arizona Daily Star has rightfully acknowledged that one-by-one, there is a fading number of WWII Vets who personally remember D-Day 75 years ago.

The same rapid attrition of Korea and Vietnam vets is now occurring. They each have a story and a personal history that we cannot afford to lose.

Electronic, written or oral documentation of veterans’ stories from all wars, especially our Wounded Warriors, is vitally important. Record their stories in the veteran’s own words before it’s too late. Then store their testimony in a safe family place.

Enjoy the Memorial Day weekend. Fly the flag and take time to acknowledge the purpose of Memorial Day. Acknowledge with pride those who gave their life for yours with bravery, hard work and dedication. Be thankful and always remember!

Retired Lt. Gen. Thomas Keck lives in Tucson.