“Only two defining forces have ever offered to die for you; Jesus Christ and the American Soldier. One died for your soul; the other for your freedom.”

On Monday, the nation honored the latter of those two, by taking the day to recognize the men and women in the United States military who have paid the ultimate sacrifice for our freedom by giving their lives.

In 1868, John A. Logan, a general in the Grand Army of the Republic, issued General Order No. 11, designating May 30 as a Memorial Day “for the purpose of strewing with flowers or otherwise decorating the graves of comrades who died in defense of their country during the late rebellion, and whose bodies now lie in almost every city, village, and hamlet churchyard in the land.”

On Monday, the American Legion Post 108 hosted Macon County’s annual Memorial Day Service at Veterans Memorial Park in Franklin. James W. “Bill” Oxford, chairman of the National Legislative Commission of the American Legion served as the guest speaker.

Oxford began his career in the United States Marines followed by his service of over 30 years in the National Guard Army Reserve.

“Today we celebrate those who have served this nation and have made the ultimate sacrifice in service to this country,” said Oxford. “The American military has been in service for over 230 years, and that service cannot be understated or repaid. That service for this country has been around since the American Revolution in 1775, and today our American military is serving in 130 countries around the world.”

“To this day our soldiers continue to die on foreign soil. This past year, 35 people gave the ultimate sacrifice while serving for our country; we owe these folks a debt of gratitude that we can never repay. Overall, since the American Revolution more than one million people have died in service for our country and for their sacrifices, they must be continually remembered and honored.”

The first national observance of the holiday took place on May 30, 1868, at Arlington National Cemetery. Originally known as Decoration Day, at the turn of the century it was renamed as Memorial Day. In 1971, a federal law changed the observance of the holiday to the last Monday in May and extended the honor to all combatants who died in American wars.