We are coming up on Memorial Day Weekend. Most people get a day off work, loads of people have barbecues, and generally people gather with friends, neighbors, and/or family this weekend to mark the unofficial “beginning of summer”. But in reality, Memorial Day means so much more.
I have never understood the different vibes for Memorial Day and Veteran’s Day. They have always seemed switched to me.
Has anyone else felt like this, or is it just me?
What ought to be a solemn day of reflecting on our fellow citizens who fought to protect our freedom, and made the ultimate sacrifice for us, is celebrated with backyard barbecues and linen sales.
Then five months later, when we ought to be joyfully celebrating the lives of our warriors who have returned home, we seem so somber.
I understand November 11th (1945) is Armistice Day – a day designated by President Harry S. Truman for “recalling the valor and sacrifices of those Americans who brought victory in 1918, and by dedicating themselves to the building of an enduring peace among the countries of the world…”
Although the peace after World War I did not even last a whole generation the concept of setting a day to venerate our brave military members is a concept that has lived on through the years since.
Why do we call it Veteran’s Day? Why don’t we match our subdued mood with the name Remembrance Day like the British? Was Armistice Day meant to only be observed on November 11, 1945?
I digress into questions, as is my habit.
My whole point for this post is to focus on the fact that Memorial Day is more than just barbeques.
Did you know that Memorial Day was previously called Decoration Day. Officially it is a federal holiday for “honoring and mourning the military personnel who have died in the performance of their military duties while serving in the United States Armed Forces”. The name Decorating Day hails back to the practice of decorating the graves of soldiers with flowers during and before the American Civil War.
A traditional symbol for Memorial Day is a red poppy. Often they are worn on lapels and refer to the fields of poppies that grew among the soldiers’ graves in Flanders. (Brits wear their poppies on Remembrance Day – 11/11.) The National American Legion adopted the poppy as the official symbol of remembrance in 1920.
So while we enjoy our time with friends and family (depending on which state you live in) this Monday, let us also keep in mind those who’s sacrifices made the freedoms we maintain and enjoy possible.
Happy Memorial Day weekend to y’all, and may God bless America.