I wanted to write something different and special about Memorial Day and the importance of the holiday of remembrance of those who have died in our nation's service, which will be celebrated this year on Monday, May 27. I remembered writing a piece on the holiday a year ago and do believe that it really said my thoughts and remembrances, so I decided to repeat it.
This year, Monday, May 27, will be Memorial Day, a day sometimes thought of as the official beginning of summer, with Labor Day marking the end of summer.
Memorial Day will be a day of family picnics and barbecues, parades, many flags unfurled, the Indianapolis 500 auto race, fireworks in some places, baseball games and meaningful ceremonies most everywhere.
That will include wreath-laying and, of course, the national Memorial Day observance to honor America's fallen military service men and women that will be held at Arlington National Cemetery. There will be also a presidential armed forces wreath-laying ceremony at the Tomb of the Unknowns.
You see, sometimes maybe we forget the real meaning of this holiday as we partake in some good old family outings and feasts. Are we forgetting those who have fallen for the cause of our country and the true meaning of this sacred holiday? They say that many Americans seem to have forgotten the traditions of this day. Some towns and cities no longer hold parades. Some think that this is a day of honoring all deaths, which is not bad as they put flowers on the graves of their loved ones.
Every family gathering and picnic or whatever the occasion may be on this day should at least have a moment of silence and thanks for those brave men and women who have departed this world in the service of their country, making it possible for all of us to simply survive.
Any living veteran and present service person should be given a simple "thank you" just for their service alone.
Most of us seniors can remember the holiday as Decoration Day. It was originally proclaimed on May 5, 1868, by Gen. John Logan, and was first observed on May 30, 1868, when flowers were placed on the graves of both Union and Confederate soldiers at Arlington National Cemetery.
The first state to officially recognize the holiday was New York in 1873. In 1890, it was recognized by all of the northern states. The south refused to acknowledge the day until after World War I, when the holiday changed to honor any American who died fighting in any war.
Moina Michael was so inspired by the poem "In Flanders Field" by John McCrae, who wrote this poem while serving in the Canadian Expeditionary Force during World War I, that she replied with her own poem, "We Shall Keep the Faith":
"We cherish, too, the poppy red that grows on fields where valor led, it seems to signal to the skies, that blood of heroes dies."
She was the one who thought of the idea to wear red poppies in honor of those who died serving the nation during war. She was also the first one to wear the red poppy.
In 1922, the Veterans of Foreign Wars became the first veterans organization to nationally sell poppies. Two years later, their Buddy Poppy program was selling artificial poppies made by disabled veterans. Should we even need to be reminded of the true meaning of Memorial Day?
Locally, we all can be proud. There will be many observances, ceremonies and parades in many towns and cities within our valley. All veterans groups will be present, plus auxiliaries, scouts, trustees, marching bands, lawmakers, military leaders and military personnel. Our grand old flag will be flying with pride.
So if you would, on Memorial Day, enjoy your family and the picnics and barbecues and even a good game of horse shoes and baseball games, but please have a moment of silence and thought to those who have passed on and served so valiantly making this country the greatest of them all.