Memorial Day Remembered



Memorial Day - Flag on Tomb of  fallen soldiers from King Phillip's War 1675

Memorial Day in the United States has become associated with picnics, barbecues, and the opening of summer camps. Ask most young people about the holiday and they will not be able to tell you the significance. I have heard answers ranging from "It is something to do with veterans," to "It's the first day of summer, right?"  Wrong!

Memorial or Decoration Day, which has its beginnings during Civil War times from 1861 to 1865, is a day to remember those who died in the service of our country. Surprisingly, while Memorial Day has been observed in many states since the mid-1800's, it did not become a legal holiday until 1971.

From its start, Memorial Day was a time of reflection, remembrance, and prayer. Graves of the fallen soldiers were decorated with flags and flowers. 

Today, parades of veterans march to cemeteries, sometimes accompanied by local school bands playing patriotic songs. Civic organizations often make floats with patriotic themes. At the cemeteries or war memorials, prayers and patriotic speeches are made, haunting renditions of taps are played, and a three-volley salute is given. Depending on weather conditions and availability, there is often a missing man fly-over done by the local Air National Guard. As an ex-military wife and daughter of a WWII, purple heart veteran, this specific Memorial Day practice always moves me to tears.

This year, as we wake on Monday, Memorial Day 2018, let us offer prayers, meditations, good thoughts for those who died far from the arms of loved ones in battle fields around the world. Let us give sincere thanks for the men and women of our country who sacrificed their lives so that we could be free. Then, let us remember the responsibility we have to keep what they died for alive and well. Let us remember that the responsibility we have is Constitutional. We have the right to vote, to protest, to speak out when we feel our government is wrong, to gather and to pray (or not); these are the rights our ancestors died to protect. We must not let apathy, nor ignorance take them from us. 

With that in mind, on Memorial Day, let us all pledge to do what we can, no matter how small, to honor the men and women of our military, who lie in eternal rest in graveyards around the world. Let us take a long and careful look at history and remember what fascism, oppression and genocide look like. Let us remember the pain and suffering that persisted until freedom was declared. Let us strive to keep the tenets of our Constitution alive and practiced. Let us not defile the honor of our fallen military members with greed, apathy, bigotry and hate.

May all those who we remember on this Memorial Day find everlasting peace. May we have the strength of character, the wisdom and the courage to continue promoting peace, freedom and the pursuit of happiness for all. May America continue to be blessed. 

Amen, Blessed Be, Aho.

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