Memorial Day – Encourage the Brave
Memorial Day is approaching — the unofficial start to summer, the perfect time to fire up the grill and hangout by the pool, right? This is what Memorial Day has become for many Americans. And most of us are guilty. I will surely be enjoying some time spent with friends and family this weekend. But we must not forget what Memorial Day stands for by mixing our lighthearted fun with some serious reflection.
This is a time set aside to remember the men and women who died in service for our country, dating all the way back to the Civil War and the over 620,000 lives lost from both sides. It was in 1868 that General Logan, Commander of the Grand Army of the Republic, set aside an annual day “for the purpose of strewing with flowers or otherwise decorating the graves of comrades who died in defense of their country,” originally called Decoration Day. Fallen soldiers were remembered in this way for over 100 years before officially becoming a federal holiday in 1971.
Memorial Day, as Decoration Day gradually came to be known, originally honored only those lost while fighting in the Civil War. But during World War I, the United States found itself embroiled in another major conflict, and the holiday evolved to commemorate American military personnel who died in all wars, including World War II, The Vietnam War, The Korean War and the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.
For decades, Memorial Day continued to be observed on May 30, the date General Logan had selected for the first Decoration Day. But in 1968, Congress passed the Uniform Monday Holiday Act, which established Memorial Day as the last Monday in May in order to create a three-day weekend for federal employees. The change went into effect in 1971. The same law also declared Memorial Day a federal holiday.
Our nation’s heroes are made up of soldiers, marines, sailors, airmen/women and guardsmen/women, representing every race, creed, color and religion. The United States military is a global and societal melting pot that is an incredible testimony to our freedom.
This weekend in every town across our nation, there will be parades, cemetery services and memorials. No matter where you have traveled, there is sure to be a Memorial Day event near you. I encourage you to set aside some time for attendance. If for some reason you are unable, there are things you can easily do on your own to honor the fallen.
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