I know. Memorial Day is not until May 31st. I agree, it should never have been trivialized by making it a “three-day weekend” holiday, but it is what it is.
And, since it has been legislated to be celebrated on the fourth Monday of May-the USA will celebrate this somber holiday tomorrow.
But then, does it really matter as long as we remember what Memorial Day is really about? It’s not about hot dogs and burgers, or ice-cold beer and chips. It is NOT about the “official launch of summer,” though many don’t know that.
Originally designated Decoration Day, the holiday was founded after the Civil War to honor those who died in both the Union and Confederate armies. This was sometime between 1866 and 1868.
It has been a Federal holiday since 1967 set aside to give us the opportunity to honor ALL of the men and women who have died in the US Armed Forces.
While I located much discussion – and few hard facts – about exactly when and where the first Decoration Day event took place, the idea of decorating, or honoring, the grave sites of soldiers began sometime after the Civil War ended, and in both the North and the South, was a somber day, reminding all of the price paid by many. The Civil War alone recorded over 600,000 military deaths between the two sides. Today, more than a million soldiers are honored in Memorial Day tributes.
The Decoration Day picnic was traditionally held in the cemetery after the ceremony honoring the dead was completed. That picnic tradition is supposedly where our festive family gatherings on the three-day weekend are rooted.
Officially titled “Memorial Day” in 1967, nearly 100 years after the first recorded “Decoration Day” event, it is not only an opportunity to reflect on the price paid by so many, but is perhaps also an opportunity to focus a prayer for our nation and those who continue to sacrifice so much.
On Memorial Day, the flag of the United States is raised quickly to the top of the pole, and then slowly lowered to the half-staff position until noon. This honors those who have died in service to our country. Then the flag is raised to full-staff for the remainder of the day, a message that the living will not forget the sacrifice of the dead service men and women, and will raise up to continue to defend our nation.
My family and I offer our respects to all of those who have given their lives in defense of our country and the freedom and dignity that it stands for. On both sides of our family tree, we have family buried in military cemeteries. Their flags of honor hang in our home. For the families who will visit memorials and grave sites on this Memorial Day, thank you for your sacrifice, too.
Oorah, hooah, hooyah.
May God bless us all. Nancy Q.