Everyone says to honor those that served on Memorial Day, but do we do it? We say don’t just flip the burgers and the hotdogs and hit the pool. We advise to take a minute to recall why we celebrate Memorial Day. With two nephews in the service, this year it is a bit easier for me to think of the Stars and Stripes. I am thinking a bit more about the meaning of the flag this year. Nephews on both side of the family are serving. My nephews Mike Salisbury and Austin Rhodes are on my mind. And then, there is my dad that served in the Navy during the Korean War. Thank you all for your service!
Thinking about Memorial Day, it is easy to find ways to travel and enjoy reflecting on the day. First though, how did we get here?
History of Decoration Day
Decoration Day was first celebrated after the Civil War. The Civil War ended in 1865. Many paid tribute to fallen heroes by decorating graves of soldiers with flowers. Credit for this practice is given to General John Logan who was the national commander of the Grand Army of the republic, it was officially proclaimed in his General Order No. 11. He organized the first official Decoration Day. The first Decoration Day was May 5, 1868. This was a nationwide day of remembrance for those that died defending their country. The day was not specific to any particular battle. The very first celebration was held at Arlington National Cemetery, there are 20,000 Civil War soldiers are buried there.
Change to Memorial Day
The name Decoration Day was changed to Memorial Day after World War I. In May 1966, President Lyndon Johnson stepped in and officially declared Waterloo N.Y. the birthplace of Memorial Day. Since 1971 it has been celebrated the last Monday in May. There are all types of traditions, on Memorials Day. There is the original laying flowers on graves, the wearing of red poppies that came from the poem, In Flander’s Field to the simple like we did by flying of the flag. Then in 2,000 came the latest tradition, A National Moment of Remembrance. This was a resolution asking Americans, “To voluntarily and informally observe in their own way a Moment of remembrance from whatever they are doing for a moment of silence or listening to “Taps”.
Celebrating the Holiday
We kept it pretty low key. We visited the grave of a friend one day. He was a veteran and we went to Butler Cemetery with his wife. Otherwise we stayed close to home and celebrated with family. We thought of those and what the sacrifices they have made for us and our freedom. When I travel though, I make it a habit to stop at Veteran memorials and pay tribute. Memorial Day really is everyday because without the men and women that served we would not have the freedom to travel and come and go as we please.
Thank you for those freedoms!