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      Observing Memorial Day Across the Grand Strand and Pee Dee

      The crowd gathered at the VFW post in Murrells Inlet Monday

      All over our area, veterans and those who support them gathered to commemorate Memorial Day.

      At North Myrtle Beach Memorial Gardens, the annual honoring of those who gave their lives in service was hosted by the Veterans of Foreign Wars Post #10804, American Legion Post #186, Ladies Auxiliary in North Myrtle Beach, Our Lady Star of the Sea #2431 Fourth Degree Knights of Columbus, and Grand Strand Blue Star Mothers. SC Senator Greg Hembree spoke about the nation's debt to our veterans, and there was a tribute by Rolling Thunder and the VFW and American Legion posts.

      There was also a ceremony to say thank you to military men and women and their families at the Myrtle Beach Convention Center Monday morning. Socastee High School's JROTC program was featured in the ceremony.

      Chief Meteorologist Ed Piotrowski emceed the events at VFW Post 10420 in Murrells Inlet, where they rededicated their Iraq/Afghanistan Memorial.

      The holiday that began as Decoration Day after the Civil War was observed for many years on May 30.

      In 1968, the Uniform Monday Holiday Act moved it to the last Monday in May.

      Since then, some veterans say Memorial Day has changed.

      "We turn it into traffic jams at the beach, we turn it into sales weekends, we turn it into another day off from work so you got a three-day weekend," said American Legion Post 186 commander Stew Koontz.

      Veterans at the Myrtle Beach Memorial Day service said they recall what the holiday meant back when it might be held on a Tuesday or Wednesday.

      "You knew why you were off (work), you knew why you didn't go to school, it was for Memorial Day. As soon as it became the three-day weekend, it's beginning of summer and it's vacation time," said Rolling Thunder Grand Strand president Bill DeVaughn.

      There are vets who say Memorial Day can return to what it meant before, but it'll taken an effort.

      "I think if we publicize it more in the news media, put more emphasis on Memorial Day and not, 'this is a three-day holiday, come for our sales and things,' we could bring this back for our country," said Allen Rundall, commander of VFW Post 10804.