Friday, May 22, 2015

MEMORIAL DAY: WHY A NATIONAL CELEBRATION?

I originally wrote in 2013 but thought it fit for today's blog.



Memorial Day is for remembering the men and women who have fallen in a time of war. Unlike Veterans Day, which honors all those, living or dead, who have served in the military. It was originally called Decoration Day by a proclamation General John Logan, on May 5, 1868. The proclamation also decreed it to be a National annual observation and the first year it was held on May 30,1868. 

Remember the United States had recently fought a bloody Civil War. The country had not yet healed. General Logan's proclamation originally was in honor of fallen Union soldiers. The South had the Confederate Memorial Day observances with emphasis on the lost confederate cause and it was held in various southern states ranging from the end of April to mid June. It wasn't until about 1913 that the two halves of the country started showing signs of honoring American fallen, rather just the Union or Confederate. 

Even though there were places in the United States that called it Memorial Day, rather than Decoration Day, it wasn't until the 1940's that it became the common name. It wasn't officially so named until 1967. That was that year the Federal government proposed not only changing the name but the date of celebration from May 30th to the last Monday of the month May.  The law went into effect on the federal level in May of 1971.


There are those who may have observed the flag ceremony that goes with the holiday, where the American flag is raised at sunrise and then slowly lowered to half mast until noon. At 12:01 the flag is again raised full staff for the rest of the day. 

What is the significance of this ceremony? 

Half mast is in honor of those million plus men and women who have died in service to their country. Full staff represents the living rising up who will not allow their deaths to be in vain. The living honor this sacrifice by continuing the fight for liberty and justice for all.

Other celebrations held nationwide are parades, speeches, marching of veterans from various wars, listening to bands play military aires--and of course cookouts. This is the beginning of summer. Many choose to celebrate the latter rather then remembering, or even knowing the significance of the holiday. 

National cemeteries and military installations have solemn and formal ceremonies. Always, there is the playing of the Taps to commemorate those who have died; and in many places the honor guard give a twenty-one gun salute. In this way, they give honor to the fallen heroes who have given their lives for freedom.




I apologize to those who don't particularly like country music, but I happen to think this is a good story set to music. A good reminder. There are quite a few unapologetic country singers who feel the need to honor American soldiers with song and video and this is one that honors the fallen from the time this country started until today.

If you like the article please share. 

Have a safe and happy Memorial Day! 

7 comments:

Kat Sheridan said...

Great article, Sia. Yes, I do think of it as a kick-off to summer, but we always take a few moments to remember the real reason for it, and hang our flag for the long weekend to remember those who have fallen. Enjoy your weekend!

Nick Wilford said...

Happy Memorial Day! We definitely need to remember those who have fallen. We have Armistice Day in November for the end of WW1, and the usual grey skies and rain at that time adds to the solemn proceedings. We've got a bank holiday this weekend too, so hopefully we'll get some decent weather.

~Sia McKye~ said...

Thank you Kat. The history behind the holiday was very interesting and I hoped others would find it so.

Yeah, I think most tend to look at it as the kick off of the summer season.

NICK--Thank you. I do know Armistice Day is very big in Europe and perhaps even more solemn because Europe was the war grounds. So many reminders there. Not many vets of WWII left but so many have made the trip back to Europe for some of the Armistice Day ceremonies to honor those fallen and for closure.
Enjoy your bank holiday!

A Beer For The Shower said...

I'll celebrate today with barbecuing and beer as I always do, but the true meaning isn't lost on me. And while I definitely do not like country I did like that song, and the story behind it.

Have a happy Memorial Day.

Susan Gourley/Kelley said...

I love how so many country music stars are unapologetic in their patriotism.
Our small town always has a solemn parade that ends with taps.

klahanie said...

Hi Sia,

Thank you for such a thoughtful, emotive and articulate post.

Most informative and yes, my lovely friend, a time to reflect, respect those who died for our freedom, worldwide.

Hope you had a peaceful, positive Memorial Day.

Gary

~Sia McKye~ said...

BRYAN AND BRANDON--I'll admit that country isn't my first choice to listen to, but there are those singers who tell and good story with their song and Trace Atkins is one of them. :-) Hope the beer was good. Me, I like the dark beer. As I sip it I'm thinking of y'all. :-)

SUSAN--There are a lot of patriotic country singers and of course patriotism isn't confined to just the country singer, lol!

GARY--my Memorial Day was peaceful and reflective. I'm glad you enjoyed the article. I liked the history of it--I'm a bit of a history buff.