It is almost time for a three-day weekend, in many cases the time for the very first celebration of Summer on its way. We call it Memorial Day these days, but how many of you really know what it is, or what we should be doing to celebrate it besides firing up the grill?
The day was originally called Decoration Day. It was started to honor those who had fallen in the Civil War, both North and South. There are lots of tales about where it originally started. It became a military holiday in 1868 when the Army designated May 5th as a day of remembrance for those who had fallen in the Civil War, both North and South. By 1890 all of the Northern states were celebrating it on May 5th. The Southern states refused to join in the celebration. Instead, they honored their fallen at other times during the year. Then World War I came along and the country had a new group of fallen warriors. The entire country, Northern and Southern states, then joined on May 5th to honor those who had fallen, recently and in the past. It began to be celebrated on the last Monday in May in 1971when the Federal government turned quite a few holidays into three-day weekends.
Memorial Day is a holiday that many fail to understand, or even celebrate in the appropriate way. It is too easy to ignore anything except that bar-b-que and sleeping in for an extra day. However, it is a day that we should all take a minute to honor those who paid the ultimate cost to ensure our freedoms, and the freedoms of others in the World. What’s the best way to do that? First, after World War I it became traditional to put a red poppy flower on the grave of a fallen warrior. That can still be a wonderful thing to do today. Silk flowers are easy to get, and you can put them on the grave of any person you know fell in combat; any combat, any time, anywhere. Fallen warriors should never be forgotten. It is also totally appropriate to put a small flag on the grave of those heroes. You can also put a flag on the grave of any veteran, although poppies should be reserved for those who actually fell in combat.
My father was a veteran, and I always honor him on this day by placing a flag on his grave. I am so lucky that he did not fall in combat, but was here to raise me. Sadly, there are way too many fallen warriors in those cemeteries; some of whom have joined those ranks recently. It is even sadder if NO ONE takes a minute to say thank you and place a memento on those graves.
So, sleep in, enjoy a three-day weekend and get the grill going so Summer can get here. But take a minute, even just in your heart, better yet with whole family, to say thank you to those warriors who made sure you could sleep in peace and enjoy the coming of Summer.