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Memorial Day: A Day of Thanks, Remembrance and Respect

ARLINGTON, VA – MAY 23: Small American flags are seen in front of graves during a ‘Flags-In’ ceremony May 23, 2013 at Arlington National Cemetery in Arlington, Virginia. A small American flag was placed one foot in front of more than 220,000 graves in the cemetery by members of the Fife and Drum Corps of the 3rd U.S. Infantry Regiment, ‘The Old Guard,’ to mark the Memorial Day. (Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images)

Of all the holidays each year this is the one that most of us would like to not be necessary. It’s a day where we honor fallen heroes of the various wars that we waged over the years.

Will mankind ever reach a point where wars are abolished? Probably not in our lifetime due the fact we create more devices that kill than communicate. So until that day comes, each Memorial Day will be a needed timeline to remember all those who made the ultimate sacrifice so that we may enjoy the freedoms many of us take for granted.

Some Memorial Day Facts

  • When I was growing up Memorial Day was observed as “Decoration Day.” It started May 30, 1868 to honor Civil War soldiers by decorating their last resting places with flowers and flags.
  • In 1971, Congress declared Memorial Day a national holiday.
  • Southern states refused to celebrate Memorial Day until after WW I when it was decided that members of all wars should be honored.
  • The last Monday in May was selected for Memorial Day because flowers in most parts of the US begin blooming by that time.
  •  The first state to officially recognize Memorial Day was New York
  • Flags should be at half-staff until noon on Memorial Day then put at full staff.
  • Beginning in the late 1950’s, 1,200 3rd Infantry soldiers place more than 220,00 flags on tombstones at Arlington National Cemetery on the Thursday before Memorial Day. To discourage souvenir hunters they also patrol the grounds making sure each flag remains in place.
  • At 3 PM on Memorial Day, all Americans are requested to observe a moment of silence and offer their respect to those who gave so much. This “National Moment of Remembrance Resolution” was passed in 2000.

Some Final Thoughts

Joseph Drake summed up the meaning of Memorial Day with this verse, “And they who for their country die shall fill an honored grave, for glory lights the soldier’s tomb, and beauty weeps the brave.” Remember.

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