In the minds of many Americans these days Memorial Day means a three-day weekend, a trip out of town, a barbeque or two. While those are absolutely great things that anyone would look forward to (I can’t blame anyone; I look forward to those same indulgences too), taking a little time to recall why we get the last Monday of May off work isn’t a bad idea.
So what’s that reason again? What’s Memorial Day supposed to be about? Specifically, it’s about remembering those Americans who died while defending our country. Sort of heavy, isn’t it? I mean, when you actually think about how so many people made the ultimate sacrifice — giving their lives in the service of their country – it has a way humbling you like almost nothing else. These people were real heroes and they deserve every sliver of recognition that Memorial Day grants them.
After all, in a way they represented us, protected us, and fought for the freedoms we as citizens enjoy today. We should be more than grateful to them, but most of all we should remember them. Be conscious of them. Honor them. Have a private moment of silence for them. These are small but meaningful things we can do to not let their sacrifice be forgotten. It doesn’t even require that much of us, yet by taking a minute to remember fallen soldiers, we at least are showing them the respect and appreciation they’ve earned. Then we also, in turn, realize how incredibly fortunate we are in our own, in all likelihood, comparatively easy lives.
And so, without a doubt, this coming Monday is a rather meaningful day of the year for Americans. But how did this day of remembrance start? The origins have been disputed for years, but officially, Waterloo, NY was recognized in 1966 by President Lyndon Johnson as the town where Memorial Day got its start. Of course, the beginnings of the holiday go much further back in history.
It was during the Civil War in 1865 that people began organizing events to gather and remember those dead. General John A. Logan was the one to suggest the date of May 30th. He chose a day that didn’t fall on any past battles so that all soldiers could be honored, not just the ones from a particular military fight. Moreover, the day was initially known as Decorative day – because they decorated the soldiers’ graves with flowers – and wasn’t changed to Memorial Day till 1882.
If you want to carry on the tradition of attending a commemorative ceremony, feel free to do so! It’s a nice way to share your patriotic side with others while also, of course, paying homage to the soldiers. There are loads of opportunities to participate. All it takes is a quick search of “Memorial Day events in [your town]” and you’ll be sure to find a few related happenings you can attend.
Ultimately, these fallen men and women the majority of us did not know personally, apart from those who were close with them their friends, their family. But they were people like you and me. They were grandparents, moms and dads, siblings, cousins, aunts and uncles, neighbors, best friends, husbands and wives, colleagues, and classmates. Memorial day is there day to be remembered. So between the barbeques and summer initiation festivities of your three-day weekend take a minute to recall those who died fighting for both their country.