Monday, May 21, 2012

Memorial Day is fast approaching!

The official "unofficial" start to summer is upon us with Memorial Day weekend being just around the corner.  Family reunions, cookouts, trips to the lake or river, Cardinal baseball games (yes, I'm biased!), and the answer to students' prayers for the end of the school year to arrive all come together in May.  Somewhere in between all this activity is the longstanding ritual of making trips to cemeteries and placing flowers or other tokens of expression in honor of those buried there, whether recent or long ago.

World Book Online explains the holiday as follows:
Memorial Day, also called Decoration Day, is a patriotic holiday in the United States. It is a day to honor Americans who gave their lives for their country. Originally, Memorial Day honored military personnel who died in the Civil War (1861-1865). The holiday now also honors those who died in any war while serving the United States.
This article later explains that this was seen as a "Union" holiday in the South and most states that were in the Confederacy created their own version of Memorial Day that falls on different dates throughout the year.

For me, Memorial Day has always had a much broader scope.  It was about visiting the graves of deceased family members and placing flowers at their graves, most of which were never in the military. I certainly mean no disrespect to fallen soldiers.  I'm very thankful for all those that answered the call to arms in our country's time of need but in doing so, lost their life.  I believe most Americans have adapted the holiday to honor anyone they have lost, both family and friends, whether military personnel or not.  This seems apparent in the wide variety of artificial flowers available at most retail stores and the sudden "blossoming" that takes place in cemeteries each May.

What does Memorial Day mean to you?  What traditions do you have?  Feel free to share your thoughts and check back in the coming days as I post more information regarding cemeteries and additional resources as we approach the holiday.

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