Memorial Day was first established as a national day of remembrance in 1868 several years after the end of the Civil War. Today it is still recognized as a day of respect for those who have died during the wars. Today, Memorial Day is still a national day of reverence, and has also become a holiday marking the beginning of summertime.

Memorial Day Flags 2013By this time here in AZ, we all realize summer weather has been here for at least a few weeks already. Pool season is underway as a prime way to beat the heat and invite friends and family over to enjoy the weekend.

Refereeing a game of Marco Polo by the pool, popping open some beers with friends and cooking up a few hamburgers is a time-honored tradition this weekend. Whether your plans involve going to the Salt River, the new Maya Beach Club[1], checking out another of the many events in the Valley this weekend, or just staying home and kicking it by the pool, be sure to enjoy some sunshine, good company, and the day off. If you do go to one of these popular destinations, remember that police will be there on patrol. Be familiar with and abide by the rules at the area to avoid trouble.

With the day off, it’s easy to lose track of time and wind up with a sunburn and a headache. But if you are hosting a celebration, think about confiscating your friends’ keys if they’ve a little bit too much. Always, always make sure that they (and you) have a safe way to get home just in case. Remember that it is not safe to assume you’re okay to drive after a few, especially since police DUI patrols are trained to detect impaired drivers during this time of year. If you or a friend does happen to be pulled over anyway, regardless of whether you’ve had anything to drink or not, remember your 5th Amendment rights. You do not have to answer police questions beyond the very basics. You also have the right to an attorney, and it is always wise to request to speak with one.

Longtime journalist and former White House press secretary Bill Moyers presents a compelling argument[2] to keep in mind during the long holiday weekend. To best honor those who have died for the nation, “we’ll renew our commitment to the rule of law, for the rule of law is essential to any civilization worth dying for.” Even in the midst of holiday cheer, this is a worthy point to remember. Regardless of where each of us may stand politically, it stands true that thousands of people have given their lives throughout this country’s history to protect our Constitutional rights. The very best way to honor this is be familiar with these rights, and exercise them as necessary.

So light up that barbecue, pull out the sunscreen, and enjoy the weekend! But keep in mind the beginnings of Memorial Day, and remember that our Constitutional rights are always worth fighting for.

[1] http://www.myfoxphoenix.com/story/22071884/2013/04/25/sneak-peek-inside-scottsdales-maya-beach-club

[2] http://www.huffingtonpost.com/bill-moyers/on-memorial-day-weekend-a_b_1543807.html