Monday, May 27, 2013

Memorial Day

Memorial Day marks the informal start of summer—pools open, the barbecue season kicks off, and it’s OK to wear white shoes or sandals. But it has a more solemn aspect, implied in the name itself. Memorial Day is a day when we remember the nation's war dead. Not to be confused with Veterans Day—which honors living veterans—Memorial Day remembers those who gave their life for the country. How did this day begin? In 1868, Memorial Day was observed for the first time in the United States, at the request of Gen. John A. Logan, the national commander of the Grand Army of the Republic. It was called Decoration Day because the general had seen women decorating graves of Civil War heroes. In the earlier part of the century, Memorial Day was essentially a Northern and Western holiday. The South had its own Confederate Memorial Day, usually held in April. But World Wars I and II brought an added gravity to the day, as did the later Korean and Vietnam conflicts. In 1959, Congress proclaimed that a day be set aside in recognition of those who died in service to their country. Memorial Day was observed on May 30 until 1971, when Congress decreed that it be observed annually on the last Monday in May.

Most importantly, let us remember those widows and orphans who lost their spouses, parents and loved ones who have only memories of their heroes who made the ultimate sacrifice.

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