Friday, May 24, 2013

Let’s Observe Memorial Day Properly

Have a Happy
Memorial Day Holiday!

This year
Memorial Day Weekend begins Saturday, May 25, 2012, and ends Monday, May 27, 2012.. In preparation for the first 3 day holiday weekend of the summer our retail brethren are going nuts. We have already seen the piles of junk mail and email heading towards our mail boxes offering us astonishingly good, discounted, prices on everything from new cars to underwear. Memorial Day has morphed into just another holiday, a good excuse to have a sale or to go sailing. A time when more people are celebrating an extra day off work with pay than are taking a moment to do what the holiday was intended for – honor the memory of those who have made the ultimate sacrifice so that we could enjoy that day off free to do as we please.

Memorial Day was originally called “Decoration Day”. It was born in the late 1860’s when many communities started holding separate remembrances and began “decorating” the graves of the fallen heroes, both union and confederate, of the Civil War. On May 5th, 1868 General John Logan, Commanding General of the Army of the Republic, issued his “General Order #11” proclaiming 30 May 1868 as the first official day when flowers were to be placed on all of the graves (north and south) of the soldiers buried at Arlington National Cemetery. New York became the first state to officially recognize the day in 1873 and was followed by 1890 by all of the states in the north. Lingering hard feelings had Southern States refusing to hold observances on the same day and choose various other days instead -- until after World War I when the day changed from remembering the fallen from the Civil War to honoring the dead from all wars and conflicts. 

In 1915 a woman named Moina Michael read the poem “In Flanders Fields” and was inspired to write:
We cherish too, the Poppy red
That grows on fields where valor led,
It seems to signal to the skies
That blood of heroes never dies.
She then began the tradition of wearing red poppies to commemorate Memorial Day. She sold red poppies to her friends and used the money to help veterans in need. That tradition was picked up in France and Belgium where red poppies are sold to this day and the proceeds are used to help war orphans.

Memorial Day was officially made a federal holiday in 1967 and the following year it was included in an act which made the observance celebrated on the following Monday of each year (allowing for a 3 day weekend). This has resulted in many people forgetting what the holiday is in honor of. Many mistakenly think it is in “honor” of the beginning of summer. To help re-educate and remind Americans of the true meaning of Memorial Day, the "National Moment of Remembrance" resolution was passed in December of 2000 which asks that at 3 p.m. local time, for all Americans "To voluntarily and informally observe in their own way a Moment of remembrance and respect, pausing from whatever they are doing for a moment of silence or listening to 'Taps."


Memorial Day should be a day of mourning. A solemn and sacred day of remembrance to honor those who paid the ultimate price for our freedoms (and we should not forget our wounded veterans whose lives have been forever altered protecting our liberty). Cities and Towns should hold parades honoring the fallen, and the parade routes should end at local cemeteries. Memorial Day speeches should be given and prayers offered up. We should take the time that day to clean and decorate with flowers and flags the graves of those that fell in service to our country. We should to remember with sincere respect those who paid the price for our freedoms. We should  never let them be forgotten. On Memorial Day we should to stop and pay our respects for those who died protecting and preserving the freedoms we enjoy. We owe those honored dead more than we can ever repay.

Over the years the original meaning and spirit of Memorial Day has faded from the public consciousness. People of other nations sometimes show more of the true spirit of Memorial Day more than we do here. For example, a 2001 U.S. Memorial Day Guest-book entry from a citizen of the Netherlands states:
"In 1999 I laid flowers at the grave of a young U.S. fighter pilot who was KIA in my village in 1945. In the Netherlands I know of schools 'adopting' graves of Allied servicemen, keeping those graves in excellent condition! Does anybody know of adopting graves in the U.S. by schools?
Paul Patist
Castricum, The Netherlands - Tue May 15 04:50:29 2001"
How many graves of our fallen do we, right here in America, leave dishonored by leaving their resting places forgotten and neglected?

This year on Memorial Day, if you don’t do anything else, take a moment to just think about all those who have served our country and given the ultimate sacrifice – all those who went to so many nameless far way places and gave their lives in the name of liberty.

As for me, at that moment at 3:00 I will stop and just say quietly, under my breath, Thank You – somehow I believe they will hear me. What are you going to do?

Live Long and Prosper...

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