Monday, May 30, 2011

Memorial Day and My 800th Post....

I find it appropriate that this post is my 800th posting for History Is Elementary.

Memorial Day is one of my favorite holidays, so it makes sense I’m writing about it again for post number 800. I knew the milestone post was coming up. I had thought about what I would write. I had even asked friends on Facebook what I should write about, and they came up with several interesting ideas. Then I realized Memorial Day was rapidly approaching…..and I couldn’t go without saying something.

What does Memorial Day mean to you? Cookouts, picnics, trips to the beach, perhaps a sale at the mall, time off from work, a cold beer or two, the Indianapolis 500, a slab of ribs on the grill……

Don’t get me wrong. I don’t have a problem with any of those things, but I wouldn’t be the ElementaryHistoryTeacher that I am if I didn’t point out what the original intent behind Memorial Day is.

Yes! These sweet young ladies, two of which I have the pleasure of knowing, have the right idea. Hannah and Claire are the daughters of a couple who are great friends of mine.  Paula and Scott felt it was important to teach their daughters the true meaning and intent of Memorial Day. Their family along with several other people decorated the graves at Marietta National Cemetery where there will be a ceremony today at noon.

I applaud them heartily!

Yes, Memorial Day is the official day to recognize men and women who have died while serving our country in the military.

Originally, Memorial Day morphed from a day that became popular soon after the end of the Civil War that was known as Decoration Day. Not only was it a day of remembrance, but it also served as a day for reconciliation as the North and South tried to heal.

The war dead was remembered by decorating their graves with flowers. On the very first Decoration Day, General James Garfield, future President of the United States, made a speech at Arlington National Cemetery where 5,000 people had gathered to decorate more than 20,000 Union and Confederate graves.

As there are with most things there are a few cities and/or groups who vie for the credit regarding who began the custom of decorating the graves of soldiers… the end it only matters that it’s done, right?

Over the years Decoration Day began to include soldiers from other wars and officially the day become Memorial Day when President Lyndon B. Johnson declared the last Monday in May as an official holiday in 1966.

Here are a few more pictures depicting Decoration Day events.

And of course looking back on other Memorial Day postings here at History Is Elementary…..This post is from 2009 and discusses heroes and this post is from 2008 when I was fortunate enough to spend Memorial Day at Arlington National Cemetery.

Whatever you do today......take a few minutes to remember those brave men and women who answered the call gave their lives in the cause of freedom.


Mrs. Bluebird said...

Thank you so much for your post. Memorial Day in my family was all about remembering, and not about the cookout. This year it's particularly sentimental as my community has lost so many soldiers this year in Afghanistan. I worry about my student who lost his mother in April just as she was getting close to returning to Afghanistan. It's been a tough year.

Online Home Inspector said...

You want to honor fallen soldiers today, in fact all our soldiers both deceased and alive, write or call the White House and tell Obama enough is enough, and he won't get one dime for the billion dollars he wants to raise for his re-election as long as he continues to spend our blood and blood money on this war, not your vote either. Write someone's name the next election in and send both republicans and democrats a message this war is their preserve and not yours, and you won't bloody your hands with it by voting for any of them.

John said...

"No Life for a Lady" by Agnes Morley Cleveland begins with a description of Decoration Day in a New Mexico town in the late 19thC. It appears that the graves decorated were not CW casualties but Union veterans who had settled in NM after the war and died. Presumably these Anglo Protestants had a different cemetery from the Hispanic Catholic New Mexici Volunteers.