MML Rants And Raves No. 007: Memorial Day 2011

Memorial Day, which was originally called Decoration Day, is observed in the U.S. as a day of remembrance for those who have died in service of our Nation. Memorial Day is celebrated on the last Monday in May as a result of the National Holiday Act passed by the U.S. Congress in 1971, which allowed for a three-day weekend for federal employees.

A Brief History of Memorial Day

On May 5, 1868, the national commander of the Grand Army of the Republic, General John Logan, officially proclaimed Memorial Day, which was first observed on May 30, 1868 when flowers were placed on the graves of both Union and Confederate soldiers at Arlingtion National Cemetery.  New York was the first state to officially recognize Memorial Day in 1873 (interesting historical fact: in May, 1966, President Lyndon Johnson declared Waterloo, New York as the birthplace of Memorial Day ). 

All of the U.S. northern states observed Memorial Day by 1890, but the southern states honored their war dead on separate days until after World War I, when the holiday changed from honoring those who died fighting in the Civil War to honoring Americans who died fighting in all wars. Nonetheless, some southern states (Texas, Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi, South Carolina, and Tennessee) continue to honor their Confederate war dead on separate days.

In the early 1900s, there was a movement to wear red poppies in observance of Memorial Day, which lasted for many years. The patriotic display of flags, Memorial Day parades, and the decorating and maintenance of the graves of war dead are traditions that still exist with solemn pride in many parts of the U.S.

In an effort to reinvigorate the original meaning of Memorial Day, to remember and honor those who died in serving our country, the National Moment of Remembrance resolution was passed in December, 2000, which requests that all Americans pause for a moment of silence or to listen to Taps at 3 pm local time on Memorial Day.

Modern Day Memorial Day Observance

For many people in the United States, Memorial Day presently represents the last day of a three-day weekend that is the unofficial start of Summer, the weekend when the local swimming pool officially opens for the season, a long weekend that is marked by heavily-advertised sales at the local mall, and the backdrop for fun-filled celebratory outdoor barbecuing for friends and family. Unfortunately, many people in the  U.S. today do not celebrate Memorial Day by doing something honorable to remember and respect our fallen — not because of disrespect but rather out of a sense of non-commitment to the purpose of the day. Perhaps it is time for our national and local leaders to re-invigorate our sense of gratitude to and pride in our military personnel, past and present, whether we agree or not with the decisions of our leaders as to military actions, by actively and positively setting examples of the ways to properly observe Memorial Day and by reminding all of us of the ultimate sacrifices of those who perished in support of our country, the heart-wrenching losses of the families that were personally and directly affected by the deaths of their spouses, sons, daughters, brothers and sisters who did not return from wars, those who were permanently injured or emotionally scarred as a result of war, and those who presently serve our Nation in the most selfless and patriotic manner possible for our (extra)ordinary brethren.

We at take the time this Memorial Day to remember our Nation’s fallen and to honor their memory and sacrifice by publicly and privately observing a somber and thankful Day of Remembrance. And to our current and recent members of our armed forces, we thank you most sincerely and profusely for your honorable service and sacrifice in furtherance of our Nation’s safety and our principles of  democracy and the right of all people to personal freedom and to determine how they live their lives as long as they respect the rights and freedom of others.

This entry was posted on Monday, May 30th, 2011 at 8:21 pm. Both comments and pings are currently closed.


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