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Happy belated Memorial Day!  As Americans celebrated the unofficial start of summer with cookouts and road trips, this weekend’s real winners were undoubtedly the fallen war heroes we honored in various ways across the country.

Originally called Decoration Day, Monday marked a day of remembrance for those who have died in our nation’s service.  Triangle residents celebrated veterans with many events throughout the weekend and the Spring Lake annual Memorial Day Parade with Fort Bragg’s 82nd Airborne Division Band on Saturday in Fayetteville.

On the national stage, President Obama honored fallen troops at Arlington National Cemetery on Monday.  The President referenced how America is for the first time in nine years, “…winding down the war in Afghanistan, and our troops will continue to come home,” instilling a sense of hope for fewer war casualties in the future to a rousing round of applause.  A National Memorial Day Parade also took place in Washington D.C. on Monday with a special tribute to the generation that served and sacrificed in Operation Iraqi Freedom.

President Obama at Arlington National Cemetery for Memorial Day

More than 1.5 million Carolinians and over 35 million Americans were expected to travel to celebrate the first big holiday weekend, largely due to declining gas prices.  This year’s expected travel is a 2.2% increase in North Carolina from 2011 Memorial Day weekend.

How did you celebrate Memorial Day and a three-day weekend?