Monday’s Memorial Day in our Dallas \ Fort Worth capped a weekend that definitely felt like summer was close at hand. Actual summer may not arrive in Plano until the summer solstice on June 20, but especially in years like this one, when Monday’s holiday is also just two days removed from the start of hurricane season, it’s clearly time to check whether there are any charcoal briquettes left over from last year.

The Atlantic hurricane season officially starts on June 1 because, logically, that’s about when the storms out there in the mid-Atlantic begin to get serious. Technically, between June 1 and November 30, 97% of Atlantic tropical cyclone activity occurs, so June 1 has every reason to lay claim to honor of being the starting block. Besides, as one meteorologist admitted, June 1 is easy to remember. At any rate, this Wednesday is it.

Of course, Memorial Day Weekend means a lot more than being the point on our calendar that marks the start of summertime activities. The meaning of the holiday is in its name, with its root “memory.” Collin County families with members currently serving in the armed forces don’t need to be reminded of the sacrifices that have kept Americans free since the founding of the Republic. That’s a part of everyday life for them. An often difficult (but always proud) part.

For the rest of us, there is usually at least one moment sometime during the holiday when some incidental occurrence gives pause for the real meaning behind the day.

It might be a fleeting glimpse on a TV of a reporter standing on a faraway battlefield, now covered in wildflowers; or it might be an encounter outside the grocery store with an old vet seated at a folding table, seeking contributions for a warrior’s fund. That’s when we experience something that’s not part of our everyday. It might feel like a somber moment that’s somehow strangely uplifting at the same time. It might be no more than an inkling; or it may be a flood of emotion—but that’s the moment when we realize once again how much each and every one of us truly owes to those who gave everything for our freedom.

It’s a valuable thing, Memorial Day.