WICHITA FALLS - For many Americans, unfortunately Memorial Day is the unofficial start of summer, where they can look forward to a three-day weekend, cookouts, and sales.
Veterans and service members say it's hurtful to think that Americans don't understand Memorial Day is set aside to honor the 1.2 million Americans who have made the ultimate sacrifice.
What does Memorial Day mean to you?
"I get the feeling that people don't really stop to think about the true purpose of the day," said Lt. Col. Matthew Simmons.
Dozens of Post 202 American Legion Riders rode from Wichita Falls to Scotland and then on to Windthorst this Memorial Day. A special way they honor those who have died in battle.
"Freedom is not free," said Ray Sluder, a veteran and American Legion, Post 202 Rider Director. "It's unreal the amount of people that we've lost over the years."
Lt. Col. Simmons dedicated his speech Monday to the real meaning behind the holiday, after he said he saw a survey that said only 20 percent of Americans know what Memorial Day is meant for.
"When he quoted 80 percent of America doesn't really know what Memorial Day is for, that hurt my heart badly," Sluder said. "People need to wake up."
And Lt. Col. Simmons said it's even more important we educate youth.
"Today, even though we are still a nation at war, there are proportionally speaking significantly fewer number of American households that are touched by the war. But that doesn't mean it's any less significant. So, it's that much more important for us to teach our young people about the significance of remembering those who gave the sacrifice."
Both Simmons and Sluder said the men and women who died while fighting for our country should be honored everyday, not just on this one day set aside to remember their many sacrifices.
80,000 American service members are still remain missing in action, their sacrifices are also honored on this day.
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