Monday, May 30, 2011

Remembrance and Memoriam

It's gotten to the point where Memorial Day stands for BBQ's and the beginning of summer, instead of the day of remembrance that it should be.  I'm sure most Americans don't even know the history of the holiday, and for any American holiday for that matter, and that's very sad to me.  You shouldn't know more about celebrities than your own country...Just Sayin'....So anyways, I did the legwork for you and for those of you that care enough to read, here is the history of Memorial Day:

Memorial Day, originally called Decoration Day, is a day of remembrance for those who have died in our nation's service. There are many stories as to its actual beginnings, with over two dozen cities and towns laying claim to being the birthplace of Memorial Day. There is also evidence that organized women's groups in the South were decorating graves before the end of the Civil War: a hymn published in 1867, "Kneel Where Our Loves are Sleeping" by Nella L. Sweet carried the dedication "To The Ladies of the South who are Decorating the Graves of the Confederate Dead" (Source: Duke University's Historic American Sheet Music, 1850-1920). While Waterloo N.Y. was officially declared the birthplace of Memorial Day by President Lyndon Johnson in May 1966, it's difficult to prove conclusively the origins of the day. It is more likely that it had many separate beginnings; each of those towns and every planned or spontaneous gathering of people to honor the war dead in the 1860's tapped into the general human need to honor our dead, each contributed honorably to the growing movement that culminated in Gen Logan giving his official proclamation in 1868. It is not important who was the very first, what is important is that Memorial Day was established. Memorial Day is not about division. It is about reconciliation; it is about coming together to honor those who gave their all.

Memorial Day was officially proclaimed on 5 May 1868 by General John Logan, national commander of the Grand Army of the Republic, in his General Order No. 11, and was first observed on 30 May 1868, when flowers were placed on the graves of Union and Confederate soldiers at Arlington National Cemetery. The first state to officially recognize the holiday was New York in 1873. By 1890 it was recognized by all of the northern states. The South refused to acknowledge the day, honoring their dead on separate days until after World War I (when the holiday changed from honoring just those who died fighting in the Civil War to honoring Americans who died fighting in any war). It is now celebrated in almost every State on the last Monday in May (passed by Congress with the National Holiday Act of 1971 (P.L. 90 - 363) to ensure a three day weekend for Federal holidays), though several southern states have an additional separate day for honoring the Confederate war dead: January 19 in Texas, April 26 in Alabama, Florida, Georgia, and Mississippi; May 10 in South Carolina; and June 3 (Jefferson Davis' birthday) in Louisiana and Tennessee.

General John A. Logan
Library of Congress, Prints & Photographs Division, [LC-B8172- 6403 DLC (b&w film neg.)]

The "Memorial" in Memorial Day has been ignored by too many of us who are beneficiaries of those who have given the ultimate sacrifice. Often we do not observe the day as it should be, a day where we actively remember our ancestors, our family members, our loved ones, our neighbors, and our friends who have given the ultimate sacrifice:

  • by visiting cemeteries and placing flags or flowers on the graves of our fallen heroes.
  • by visiting memorials.
  • by flying the U.S. Flag at half-staff until noon.
  • by flying the 'POW/MIA Flag' as well (Section 1082 of the 1998 Defense Authorization Act).
  • by participating in a "National Moment of Remembrance": at 3 p.m. to pause and think upon the true meaning of the day, and for Taps to be played.
  • by renewing a pledge to aid the widows, widowers, and orphans of our falled dead, and to aid the disabled veterans.
In 1915, inspired by the poem "In Flanders Fields," Moina Michael wrote this in memoriam:

We cherish too, the Poppy red
That grows on fields where valor led,
It seems to signal to the skies
That blood of heroes never dies.

And this is a really good day to remind people:
If you are interested in more info there are lots of sites, but I found this one and thought it most helpful!


-The Frog Princess- said...

I'm so grateful to live in America! Thanks for doing the research! I truly didn't know most of that!

The Noble Fam said...

thanks for taking the time to research this. such a wonderful post. my husband is in the military and serving overseas right now. we have lost some great friends along the way. this post means a lot. have a great day!


Well said--great post!!! My hubs and I both served as MArines and completely get the meaning!!
Thanks so much for stopping in over at my blog and leaving a lovely comment..I'm sorry I just now saw it!!!!!
You have a great blog here..and I'm sure to stop back in for a visit! Have a wonderful weekend.

Jesse @ Happy Go Lucky Vegan said...

A great reminder of the true meaning of Memorial Day - I really like the idea of renewing the pledge to help the widows of veterans. I appreciate this post, Janna.


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