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What is Memorial Day
All About?

May 25, 2015

The tradition of recognizing those who gave their lives in battle has been practiced around the world for centuries.  Here in our country doing so started in earnest during the American Civil War.  Southern Confederate women decorated the graves of their fallen soldiers, beginning in the summer of 1861.   In 1868 Union General John A. Logan called for a national Decoration Day to be held annually on May 30.  The day was chosen because there were no Civil War Battles fought on that day and because it maximized the chances for flowers being in bloom.  The name gradually changed from Decorations Day to Memorial Day; Memorial Day being first used in 1882.  Congress officially named the last Monday in May Memorial Day in 1968. 

The first recorded black Memorial Day celebration was on May 1, 1865 fittingly in Charleston, South Carolina.  They publically cleaned and decorated the mass unmarked graves of Union soldier prisoners of war.  Masses of people attended.  Multiple national newspapers provided coverage.  Of the day, some historians have written the events created “the Independence Day of a Second American Revolution.” 

What began with remembering the many killed in battle during the Civil War now encompasses a day of honoring family members who preceded us, as well as, Americans soldiers killed in action from all wars.   In our observance of this remembrance, we ought to include more than just those who paid the ultimate price for our freedoms.   We should also remember, honor, and assimilate into our own lives: their courage, their bravery, the circumstance and the ideals for which they fought.

 May we never forget the sufferings of the “ghost army” escaping west toward Pennsylvania from New York with only rags for shoes without enough coats nor blankets; fighting through snow and heavy cold rains; nor should we forget the critical changes coming from the terrible sufferings at Valley Forge.  Let’s not forget, the miracles at Brooklyn Heights where all of General Washington’s forces were able to evacuate the city under a fog that lifted immediately after his small army had crossed the Hudson River; or the battle of Yorktown where the British surrendered. 
We should remember the brave men who participated in Pickett’s charge at Gettysburg and consider reading Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address as part of your remembrance this week.

We should remember the miracles of Pearl Harbor where the U.S. aircraft carriers were not in port, and what happened at the Island of Midway in the Pacific where those same carriers dealt a devastating blow to the forces of Japan and turned the tide of the Pacific conflict.
May we remember and never repeat, the less than gracious and welcoming, homecoming given those returning from Vietnam; rather instead may we properly remember and honor those brave men.

Each of us has been blessed by those who have gone before.  Today, let’s not forget that over the years some in our military gave all and all gave some.  Commit today to honoring those who have gone before and those wounded warriors who are still among us. 

Mark, Bill and John