Each year on the last Monday of May, Americans take a three-day weekend to celebrate Memorial Day and the unofficial start of summer. Many spend the weekend grilling, camping or fishing and some head to the beach, but all are enjoying time spent with family and friends. It’s a great start to the summer season but that’s not the real reason we have the holiday weekend. Hopefully, in the midst of enjoying the weekend, we also take time to reflect on the true meaning of the federal holiday.
Memorial Day, originally called Decoration Day, was a day set aside to remember those who made the ultimate sacrifice while serving our country. Decoration Day began after the Civil War ended to honor those who gave their lives during our country’s bloodiest conflict, and was proclaimed, not by the president but by General John Logan, national commander of the Grand Army of the Republic. “The 30th of May, 1868, is designated for the purpose of strewing with flowers, or otherwise decorating the graves of comrades who died in defense of their country during the late rebellion, and whose bodies now lie in almost every city, village and hamlet churchyard in the land.”
America has always given freely of its sons and daughters during its fight for freedom – whether it’s ours or another country’s. Between our first battle, the fight for independence in 1775, to today, May 24, 2015 and our current conflicts in support of the Global War on Terrorism, America has lost almost 1.3 million men and women on the battlefield. Those brave souls who have died in our country’s battles, are who we should be honoring and remembering today.
All day I’ve been the recipient of gratitude and well-wishes – and although I am very grateful and honored that people have been thinking of me and my service to our nation – today’s not about me.
It’s not my day. I’m not dead.
Nor, is it about any other living military person or veteran…. our day is in November and it’s called Veterans Day.
Today is the day to honor our war dead. Those brave men and women, who while answering the call of their nation, made the ultimate sacrifice for our country. They are who Memorial Day is for.