Memorial Day, the kick-off to the summer season. School will soon be out and every student across our area will rejoice. No better words have ever been uttered during one’s youth than, “It’s the last day of school.” Just saying it still gives me a feeling of happiness.
The three-day holiday weekend is the official beginning of the picnic season. Fire up the grill; whip up some potato, macaroni or pasta salad. An ice-cold ice tea or adult beverage to cool you down. There is nothing like a family softball game or pitching a few horseshoes. A quick swim in the pool or creek and back to the whiffleball game. Up early to the morning sun and much to be done, up late to the warm nights, camp fire, a few s’mores or mountain pies. The sounds of summer nights in the air soon to be illuminated by lightning bugs or fireflies if you wish.
Vacation time is in the air. Thoughts of the Jersey Shore, Outer Banks or your favorite shore destination. A trip to Disney or that special vacation destination may lie in your near future.
For those of us wrapped up in summer baseball, softball or a tight work schedule, daycations or weekend getaways are the perfect solution. A ball game in Philly or the steel city, or a trip to NYC for history, culture and a show. A day of fishing or a secluded cabin for the weekend, hiking, biking and maybe a little “ruffing it”. A couple tickets for a concert, there will be many great artists within a driving distance at outside venues. It could be a weekend ride to visit family or friends. The warmth of the summer sun provides the perfect motivation for whatever you want to do. To each their own, the great thing about where we live is the easy access to the ocean or mountains, cities or reclusive hideaways, so much to do within so little driving time. Enjoy summer!
Now back to Memorial Day. What makes all these choices and celebrations of summer possible are the men and women who in our American history have served to provide and protect our freedom. This day is in the remembrance of those who made the ultimate sacrifice. Those who gave all, their hopes and dreams and future, for the United States of America! They are truly America’s heroes.
The first official Memorial Day was held on May 30, 1868. It was defined as “a day of observance to those who lost their lives in service to their country”. This was during the civil war era, General John Logan, commander of the Grand Army of the Republic, was the individual responsible for the declaring of this day. Flowers were placed on the gravesites of both Union and Confederate soldiers at Arlington National Cemetery.
Just one problem. The south refused to acknowledge the day. They believed the dead should be honored by states of the Confederacy at a memorial of their choosing. The idea of remembering those lost at war dates back to the 1850s and the southern states. Many cities claim to be the birthplace for Memorial Day. It was called Decoration Day. A day when southern women’s groups would place not just flowers but articles of remembrance at the fallen’s grave. They believed the union army was trying to rob the confederate troops of their “Decoration Day.” This was one of the reasons they did not recognize the first Memorial Day.
Today the Memorial Day holiday is part of a three-day weekend, which was enacted, in the early 1970s by congress. It switched Memorial Day from the traditional May 30th to the last Monday of May each year. The gravestones at Arlington are decorated with small American flags as is done in most cemeteries across the country in remembrance of those who have left us.
Beginning with the Revolutionary War it is estimated that 1,196,485 have lost their lives during wartime service for our country. The highest number of deaths occurred during the Civil War. Almost 490,000 Union and Confederate soldiers perished during the division of the North and South.
Please take some time this Memorial Day to remember and thank God for all who have served and are currently protecting our Freedom especially those who were lost while creating, protecting or defending our great nation.
God Bless America