LA CROSSE, Wis. (WKBT) -

Memorial Day is a day to remember and honor those who have died for our freedom, but with an extended weekend full of fun in the sun and family time, the true meaning can get lost.

It’s important to remember that our freedom came at a price, a price many men and women have paid over the years serving and protecting our country.

Memorial Day is a day to say thank you.

"It's time to pay tribute to those who have served,” said Joseph Jordan, a cadet at the University of Wisconsin La Crosse.

"Those who have fought for our country,” said Casey Swartz, a naval sea cadet in La Crosse.

"I really care for the servicemen that have fought for our country. My dad was in World War II, so Memorial Day is special to me,” said Marsha Gibbs.

"Congratulating all the veterans who have served our country. They could be doing other stuff, but they are fighting for us,” said Codey Swartz, a naval sea cadet in La Crosse.

Memorial Day is a day of honor..

"Special day to take a time out and remember, not just in the recent past, but through all the nation's wars, everyone that's made that ultimate sacrifice,” said Capt. Chris Pendelton, assistant professor of military science at UW-La Crosse, ROTC.

"It's about remembering those who have served; those who gave their lives for our freedom,” said Jordan.

And it's a day to remember fallen comrades.

"I am a veteran; I served in the Army and know what it does mean to be in the military but also what people have sacrificed, those who have gone into battle and not come home,” said Chuck Gustafson, a Vietnam War veteran.

"We don't want to forget those that have made the ultimate sacrifice for our country,” said Pendelton.

"My country is close to my heart, and those who fall for it are heroes to me,” said Janssen Decker, a naval sea cadet in La Crosse.

According to the Department of Defense, more than 42 million men and women have served our country in time of war, and more than a million have died fighting for our freedom.

Americans marked the first Memorial Day 150 years ago, although back then it was known as Decoration Day. The Memorial Day we know today became an official U.S. holiday in 1971.