I receive e-mails from the Good Clean Fun list by Tom Ellsworth, and on some holidays, particularly patriotic ones, he includes a serious note. This past week he included the history of Memorial Day, which I thought was interesting and would like to share with you:
I want to be serious for a moment and talk about the holiday which will be celebrated here in the United States on Monday.
Memorial Day is on the last Monday in May and honors those men and women who lost their lives serving their country. What we celebrate as Memorial Day today, began at the end of the Civil War. Family members of the many soldiers slain in battle would visit the grave sites of their fallen relatives or friends and decorate the graves with flowers.
On May 5, 1868, General John Logan proclaimed this day a holiday through his General Order No. 11. The day was entitled Decoration Day and was first observed on May 30, 1868. The northern states celebrated this day every year, but the southern states celebrated a day similar to this on a different day until sometime after World War I.
In 1882, the name Decoration day was changed to Memorial Day, and in 1971, Memorial Day was declared a national holiday to be held on the last Monday of May every year. Over the years it has come to serve as a day to remember all U.S. men and women killed or missing in action in all wars.
I am truly grateful for the freedoms which we enjoy today. Too often, we take these gifts for granted, little realizing the sacrifice which was involved in ensuring that these freedoms continue to be a part of all of our lives. Be honest, how many of us think of Memorial Day as just another chance for a three-day weekend? A chance to go the lakes or beaches or mountains? A trip to Disneyland or Six Flags or some other amusement park?
If you are here in the United States, please remember to display the flag, not just for the day but for the whole weekend. Let’s not forget the real reason for having this holiday. The quote below says it all. Please take the time to read it.
Take care everyone.
(HM2, USN 65-69)
He also has a really neat story after this history, which you can read here.
“It is, in a way, an odd thing to honor those who died in defense of our country in wars far away. The imagination plays a trick. We see these soldiers in our mind as old and wise. We see them as something like the Founding Fathers, grave and gray-haired. But most of them were boys when they died, they gave up two lives — the one they were living and the one they would have lived. When they died, they gave up their chance to be husbands and fathers and grandfathers. They gave up their chance to be revered old men. They gave up everything for their county, for us.
All we can do is remember.”
— Ronald Wilson Reagan
Remarks at Veteran’s Day ceremony, Arlington National Cemetery, Arlington, Virginia,
November 11, 1985
We don’t really have big plans for the day. It’s a rainy, drizzly day, and Jim grilled outside the two previous weekends. We had company over the weekend who left this morning. I think we’re just laying low, enjoying the day off, eating leftovers, and being thankful for those who made it possible to do so in peace.