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Summer holidays bring a community together

Summer in America begins and ends with holiday weekends dedicated to those who have served our country with courage, honor and hard work.

The first holiday, Memorial Day, is observed on the last Monday in May. It is a day for honoring the heroes who have served this country and given their lives in the defense of America’s values.

Memorial Day began as Decoration Day following the American Civil War and became nationally well-known when veterans of the Union and Confederate armies gathered in Gettysburg to commemorate the 50-year anniversary of the Battle of Gettysburg. Most of us remember the Gettysburg Address from American history and remember the words President Abraham Lincoln delivered on the afternoon of Thursday, Nov. 19, 1863, at the dedication of the Soldiers’ National Cemetery in Gettysburg.

The day was originally observed on May 30, however on June 28, 1968, Congress passed the Uniform Monday Holiday Act, which moved Memorial Day and three other federal holidays to a specified day to create a three-day holiday weekend.

Unofficially, Memorial Day, as a holiday weekend, marks the beginning of the summer vacation season — the ending of the school year, the opening of public swimming pools and making plans for summer vacation. But those things should not, in any way, detract from the observance of Memorial Day as a day for honoring our fallen heroes.

As the summer proceeds, there are more days set aside for remembering. Flag Day on June 14 commemorates the day the Second Continental Congress chose a flag to represent the newly united 13 states. Did you fly the American flag in front of your house on Flag Day? Many in Boulder City did and continue to display it anticipating Independence Day in July.

Independence Day — the Fourth of July — is a holiday that is always observed on July 4 regardless of the day of the week on which it falls. Boulder City’s Damboree is the most celebrated holiday of the summer season in town.

It is a day of community activities beginning with a pancake breakfast at Bicentennial Park and continues with a parade down Nevada Way, with homemade floats, marching bands, drill teams and a flyover by a veterans’ group, ending at Broadbent Park for speeches and presentations and awards and games, and lots of food and drink.

The day ends with the best fireworks display in Southern Nevada set off over Veterans’ Memorial Park beginning at 9 p.m. The Fourth of July has something for everyone, beginning at 7 a.m. and ending at 11 p.m. — a full day of celebration.

And finally, Labor Day — another three day weekend that unofficially ends the summer season. It is celebrated to honor the labor movement and the contributions workers have made to the strength, prosperity and well-being of this country.

For Boulder City, Labor Day means more than just the end of summer, the start of a new school year, and a boatload of memories of the fun and freedom of the summer vacation that began on Memorial Day. It was because of the labor contributed by workers coming from all parts of the country to build the tallest dam in the world that Boulder City exists in the first place.

In the weeks preceding Labor Day in 1932, the first government employees and Six Cos. workers moved into homes built on the federal reservation that became Boulder City. Those workers set the highest standards of ingenuity, hard work and determination that is often remembered at community events to remind us of how it began and the effort required.

Every official holiday celebrated during the summer season has national, local as well as personal relevance. These holidays connect us all as we mourn the loss of our sons and daughters to war; celebrate the courage of the Founding Fathers in forming this nation; and appreciate the workers who built the country and brought it, through good times and hard times, to the greatness we must acknowledge today.

Susan Stice McIntyre is a native of Boulder City and Boulder City High School graduate. She holds degrees in English and English literature, is a columnist for numerous publications and is currently co-authoring an English conversation text book.

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