Memorial Day … A Time To Honor The Fallen
May 25, 2009
For many people in the United States, Memorial Day is a day that swimming pools open for the summer, the first three day weekend of the summer and a time to get together and barbecue, party and relax. It seems that many have forgotten what the holiday is intended to be. The meaning of Memorial Day is often lost in all of the other things. It’s a travesty.
Originally called Decoration Day, it was initially dedicated as a day to remember the fallen from the Civil War. A day in which those fallen warriors could be remembered for laying down their lives for something they believed in, whether they fought for the Union or Confederate armies. In May 1966, President Lyndon B. Johnson officially proclaimed Waterloo, N.Y to be the birthplace of Memorial Day, though other cities have staked claim to that title as well. Regardless of its origins, it’s a day of remembering those who sacrificed their lives for the ideals of this country.
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.1
Across the country on Memorial Day, the graves of Veterans will be decorated with US flags. While the holiday has evolved over the years to include a day in which many remember their friends and family members who have passed on, the history of Memorial Day is something that we should never forget and that we should pass down to our children and grandchildren. Were it not for the brave men and women who have and continue to sacrifice so that we might continue to enjoy the freedoms that are the foundation of our great country, this country would not be what it is today.
To help re-educate and remind Americans of the true meaning of Memorial Day, the “National Moment of Remembrance” resolution was passed on Dec 2000 which asks that at 3 p.m. local time, for all Americans “To voluntarily and informally observe in their own way a Moment of remembrance and respect, pausing from whatever they are doing for a moment of silence or listening to ‘Taps.”2
I urge everyone to participate in the National Moment of Remembrance. All it takes is a few minutes of your time to stop what you’re doing and remember all of the brave warriors who have given their lives so that we are free to live ours as we chose, whether that is by pausing a moment to reflect in silence or listen to Taps. The sacrifices of our brave, fallen warriors are too important to forget, regardless of whether anyone from your family has ever served or not. , with the voice of an angel and a heart of gold says it best in her song, “Honor The Fallen.”
I ask that each of you take a few moments on Memorial Day to ‘Honor The Fallen’. We owe them that.