Sunday, May 25, 2008

Memorial Day

Memorial Day is tomorrow, so I thought some history on this most important of days would be appropriate. 

Memorial Day - or Decoration Day, as it was known then - was first nationally observed on May 30, 1868. On that day, flowers were placed on Union and Confederate soldiers' graves. Originally, this day honored only those who fought and died in the Civil War, but after World War I, that stipulation was expanded to honor those who died in all American wars.

Waterloo, New York was officially declared the birthplace of Memorial Day by President Lyndon Johnson in May 1966, though over two dozen cities and towns claim to be the rightful originators of the day. (This includes Pennsylvania's own little village of Boalsburg.) But however it came to be, what is most important is that we have the day. Memorial Day is about coming together to honor those who made the ultimate sacrifice for the good of our country.

Now, Memorial Day is celebrated on the last Monday in May. In recent years, the traditional observances of the day - wearing red poppies (an idea first conceived by Ms Moina Michael and later taken up by Madam Guerin of France), observing proper flag etiquette, holding parades, and decorating the graves of the fallen - has gone by the wayside in some places. Memorial Day is seen by many as an extra day off of work, a time for picnics and barbecues and sports events, and a day to honor anyone who has died.

Because of this, and to ensure that the ultimate price paid by fallen American heroes is not forgotten, the President signed into law in 2000 "The National Moment of Remembrance."

So, throughout the weekend, have fun, enjoy your picnics and barbecues and sports events, and relax on your day off. 

But don't forget those heroes whose sacrifices made all of our comforts and freedoms possible...

At 3:00 PM your local time, on Memorial Day tomorrow, observe the National Moment of Remembrance. Pause wherever you are for a minute of silence. Remember and honor those who have died in service to our country.

If you have a loved one to honor this day, please leave his or her name in the comments section. Tell us a little about them if you like. I'll list them in a special post tomorrow. Then we can know a little bit more about the people responsible for the freedoms we enjoy today.

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