Good Morning! Here's the Monday Morning Blog!
Have you had a chance to touch base with your teen lately? We are spending our Memorial Day weekend at the cabin with ours, friends and family.
May is not just Mental Health Awareness Month. May is also known as Military Appreciation Month. What a great way to wind up May than to talk about what today, Memorial Day, is all about.
What is Memorial Day?
Memorial Day is a national holiday where we take time to reflect and remember those who gave their lives protecting our country. This year it falls on May 31st, the day after what would have been my Mom’s 82nd birthday. For years like this one, when Memorial Day didn’t fall on May 30th, she would say the real Memorial Day is supposed to be celebrated on her birthday. I thought she was just trying to make that point for the sake of it. As I was researching the history of Memorial Day, I found out that May 30th was the original date that Decoration Day, the precursor to Memorial Day, was celebrated starting in 1868. I guess Mom was right!
What is Decoration Day?
According to The History of Memorial Day on the pbs.org website, Decoration Day was a celebration of the men, both Union and Confederate, who lost their lives in the American Civil War. It came out of a tradition of placing flowers on the graves of the soldiers who died in battle.
During its first celebration at Arlington Cemetery in 1868, the former Union General, James Garfield, who was an Ohio Congressman at the time, made a speech before the 5000 volunteers who laid flowers at more than 20,000 Union and Confederate soldiers graves. Here was a quote from that speech.
“We do not know one promise these men made, one pledge they gave, one word they spoke; but we do know they summed up and perfected, by one supreme act, the highest virtues of men and citizens. For love of country they accepted death, and thus resolved all doubts, and made immortal their patriotism and their virtue.”
– James A. Garfield - May 30, 1868 Arlington National Cemetery
New York was the first state to designate Memorial Day as a legal holiday. After World War I, the holiday was expanded to celebrate soldiers who died in all of America’s Wars. Once it became a National Holiday it was celebrated on the last Monday in May instead of May 30th due to the Uniform Holiday Act of 1968. That decision made the holiday not always fall on May 30th, to my Mom’s dismay.
Other Holidays Celebrating the Military
There are multiple military holidays celebrated throughout the year. I saw a post on Facebook this week that discussed the differences between three of them. Memorial Day is the designated day to remember those who have lost their lives while serving in our armed forces. Armed Forces Day is designated to recognize the men and women who are currently serving. And Veteran’s Day is the day to recognize those who have served, but are still living. We should honor and respect those who serve, have served and gave their lives to protect our country. These holidays give us a chance to take the time to do so.
How to celebrate Memorial Day?
More than just being a day off from work and school, what does one do to celebrate Memorial Day?
Families and friends go to the cemetery to visit the graves of loved ones who lost their lives defending our country. And spend sometime together to remember those fallen soliders.
At Arlington Cemetery, and many other cemeteries across the country, volunteers place an American flag on the graves of those fallen soliders. The President or Vice-President of the United States will place a wreath at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier as a reminder that not all who serve, find their way home.
For Memorial Day this year, I’ll be saying a prayer for all of the soldiers died serving our country and their families. I’ll also be going to visit my mom and dad's grave. My dad served in the Army and my mom wasn’t a solider in a war, but it is still her day. Happy Birthday Mom!
What are you doing for Memorial Day to Remember and Honor our fallen soliders? Let me know in the comments below.
Keep an eye out for Shawn's Way, book two of The Way Series! It will be released on June 21st!
Have a great week!