Decoration Day – a day to remember

In 1971 the US government passed the National Holiday Act for the purpose of creating 3 day holidays.  In that process many of our holidays may have lost their meaning.  Today many folks are celebrating a day off of work, but are they taking a minute to reflect on why this is a holiday?

Memorial Day began just after the Civil War, to honor those who had fallen.  It was originally called Decoration Day, and was a day for families to honor lost military,  both Union and Confederate.  Families decorated the graves of soldier’s with flowers that were in bloom.   Until 1971 this holiday was May 30th every year.

My Grandma called it Decoration Day.    She would gather peonies, irises and other flowers from her garden into wonderful bouquets.   A trek would be taken to the local cemetery where the bouquets were  placed on graves of family members who had gone before.

The rural town where I lived had an annual Memorial Day parade, on May 30th, whatever day of the week that fell on.   I am no longer sure how big the parade was but know that it had both the junior and high school bands playing, even though school had been dismissed for the summer.   The parade marched down Main street and up to the cemetery where there was a color guard and a ceremony that honored fallen military.   It was a holiday tradition that we attended the parade and the ceremony.

I no longer live near a family cemetery, nor does my local town have a parade.  In honor of memorial day I plan to look at ancestors in my family tree who have served the US military and take some time today to learn more about them, the battles they fought in and how they were part of history.

A new generation of soldiers are giving their lives in honor of their country and our freedoms.  I hope that all of us will take a minute to reflect on the holiday and maybe take a minute or two to Google Memorial Day and find out a little more history about our national holiday. It should be much more than a day off of work.

2 comments on “Decoration Day – a day to remember

  1. Other memory – He always held a worship service for the servicemen before a big battle & gave out pocket New Testaments at the end. After the battle, it was his job to go collect dog tags so the commanders could notify family of the casualties. And he told me what a huge impact it had on him to find one of those NT’s on the bodies, knowing he had the last formal word to that solider about God before He met Him….awesome thought. In the movie years ago “Patton” there is a scene where he is wanting to attack but has to wait out rains; so he calls his chaplain (Uncle Norman??) to write him a prayer which will stop the rains!!! Funny, interesting thoughts on history. Thanks for the memories!

  2. I’m a little slow in commenting, but since we share a common ancestor (Uncle Norman/Gomper) who was in the military, wanted to share something with you he told me about WWII one time. We were talking about General Patton & the fact he served in his army in Europe. He told me he was with him when they liberated concentration camp(s – not sure if it was more than one or not) & what an impact that made on him. I’ve seen films of Patton forcing German locals to line up & go through them, have wondered if Uncle Norman witnessed this?? Other memory, another comment!

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