THE MEANING OF MEMORIAL DAY

THE MEANING OF MEMORIAL DAY

For many Americans Memorial Day is a three day weekend designed for parties, backyard BBQ’s, boating, swimming and fun signalling the start of summer. Just what is Memorial Day really? How did it start?

 

While there is some debate over where it officially began, Memorial Day started as “Decoration Day.” Toward the end of the Civil War in the South, women began placing flowers on the graves of fallen Confederate soldiers. The practice spread by word of mouth, and by the end of the war women from both sides of this horrific conflict placed flowers on the graves of the men and women who never came home.  In 1863 The Gettysburg Cemetery was dedicated to honor both sides and the laying of flowers became an unofficial way to honor those who fell in battle. And Decoration Day began a long tradition of honoring active duty military killed wile serving.

Photo from the Gettysburg Cemetery showing men from the Indiana Regiment.
This peaceful field was the site of the bloody battle of “Picket’s Last Charge. The aura there is solemn and there is a feeling of great sadness.

After President Lincoln was assassinated in April of 1865, more ceremonies were held across the nation to honor the fallen and a movement began. The sheer number of deaths in the Civil War, over 600,000 meant that ceremonies took place all across our nation and gained more importance. Boalsburg, PA claims the title as the “Birthplace of Decoration Day in 1864,”   but the first organized and publicized event was held in May, 1865 in Charleston, SC.

MORE FUN FACTS

General John Logan of the Union Army declared Decoration Day to be held on May 30th each year because it was the time of year when most flowers would be in bloom across the country. Although Decoration Day began as a way to honor the Civil War soldiers, by the end of WWII it expanded to include all men and women in all branches of service who died while on active duty.

The Boys Scouts of America began placing Flags on each one of the 150,000 graves in the Jefferson National Barracks in St Louis, MO. That idea also spread and since the 1950’s Flags are placed on each grave at Arlington by volunteers. Each sitting President places a wreath at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. And all National Cemeteries offer solemn, dignified ceremonies while volunteers place Flags on graves on both Memorial Day and Veterans Day. If you’ve never been to a National Cemetery I highly recommend it. You will come away with a thankful, grateful heart  for the sacrifices these men and women made.

The Tomb of the unknown soldier, Arlington Cemetery

 

Arlington National Cemetery. The sheer number of tombstones is overwhelming.

The title, “Memorial Day” became official in 1968 but it wasn’t until 1971 the law was enacted to have it celebrated on the last Monday in May, giving Americans a 3 day holiday.

All American Flags are supposed to be flown at Half-staff until noon on Memorial Day, but this is a tradition, not a law.

The Viet Nam Memorial Wall in Washington

Because so many lost sight of the real meaning behind Memorial Day, in the year 2000 a law was enacted titled; The National Moment of Remembrance Act. At 3:00 p.m. local time each person is to stop for a moment of silence to honor all those who died while on active duty.  I can’t help but wonder how many americans actually do this.

Eugene Lowe made the ultimate sacrifice while manning a gun on board a ship attacked by Japanese suicide bombers in WWII.

I still remember the importance this day had, and still has for our family. My Grandmother and Aunts would make a special trip to the cemetery to lay flowers to honor my Uncle Gene, who died in WWII. His loss still defines how I see this important, but almost forgotten holiday. I share his photo and also the photo of the name of one of my friends inscribed on the Viet Nam War Memorial Wall. I hope you will take a moment this year, to pay homage to those who were brave enough to wear a uniform to serve this nation…..and who made the ultimate sacrifice.

I know I will.

 

My friend, Wayne Decker, killed in battle within a week of of his first tour of duty in Viet Nam. Rest in Peace

 

REMEMBERING THOSE WHO MADE THE ULTIMATE SACRIFICE FOR OUR NATION

REMEMBERING THE SACRIFICE OF

EUGENE LOWE

WAYNE DECKER

DOUG ARMSTRONG

RICHARD WISEMAN

AND TO ALL THE OTHER MEN AND WOMEN WHO PAID THE PRICE AND GRANTED US THE FREEDOM TO CELEBRATE THIS WEEKEND.

“NO GREATER LOVE HATH A MAN THAN THIS, THAT A MAN  LAY DOWN HIS LIFE FOR HIS FRIENDS”

 

Tell me what ya think!

Crystal

Wife, Mother and Grandmother, lover of junking and vintage stuff, photography, music, books, and critters. I heart Hersheys, Barqs Rootbeer and Keds. Join me as I create my own suburban sanctuary and help you create one too.

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