Monday, May 25, 2015

Memorial Day


Memorial Day is coming up.

I wore my veterans hat the last day of the conference in Colorado in recognition of it being Armed Forces Day. Some however said "I thought that was next weekend." I responded, "No, that weekend is Memorial Day."

Armed Forces Day is to recognize active serving Military personnel. Veterans Day, which comes in November is to recognize those who have served in the past, and Memorial Day recognizes those who gave all in service of their country. There can be a little confusion about the meaning of the three special days.

The Memorial Day holiday observed on the last Monday in May, originated after the civil war to honor those who died in the war. Originally known as Decoration Day, it was later extended to include all who have served and have passed on. Many use the occasion to mark family graves of all types, but the primary reason is to recognize this service.

The National Cemetery at Arlington places a small American flag at each headstone for the day, exactly one boot length from the stone. It is a very impressive sight.

The first documented observance was in Savannah Georgia in 1862 marking the graves of Confederate soldiers. The following year the cemetery at Gettysburg was dedicated and the observance began to be recognized by both sides. With over 600,000 dying in the war the recognition was of major significance as there were few families untouched by the tragedy in some manner.

War is a terrible thing and there is no one who would like to see no more war than the soldier. However, no matter how we might feel about war itself we should never allow that feeling to color or detract from the honor due the brave soldiers who have stepped forward when their country called and who gave their lives in that service.

When family gathers on Memorial Day and we are cooking out or going to the park or however we choose to enjoy the weekend, let's pause for a moment and remember the true meaning of the day. Freedom is not free, and it is only right to pause and remember who paid that price for us.