Monday, May 30, 2011

Day 150, May 30

I've written before about my love for our country and my respect for those who serve it. My father was a World War II veteran. Two of his brothers died during the War. He regarded protecting his country as a sacred duty and a privilege.

I wonder what those who currently serve America and veterans think of "Memorial Day sales" and the commercialism which shrouds it. Do we, as citizens, understand its meaning? I admit to having to do some research about this sacred day to learn its history.

Memorial Day was officially proclaimed on the fifth of May, 1868 by General John Logan, national commander of the Grand Army of the Republic and was first observed on May 30, 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.

For many years, what we now refer to as Memorial Day was called Decoration Day. Visits to my mother's family in Tennessee often found our cousins, my sister, and me making flowers to decorate the graves. Made from crepe paper and wire, these humble flowers quickly "wilted" in the humid Tennessee air, their bright colors running together, but we took pleasure in the making of them.

With our parents, aunts and uncles, and grandmother, we trooped to the small cemetery and there laid the flowers on the graves. Sunday clothes were a must. Stories were told of long-gone ancestors. Every grave was decorated, whether they were those of "our people" or not. Fifty or so years have passed since that time, but I remember those days vividly.

So, for today, I am grateful for Memorial Day and the service men and women who protect our country.

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