By Diane Forrest
Every last Monday in May I head down the veteran's cemetery here in town. It is a beautiful heartwarming site to see all the flags waving, but they also serve as a reminder that the flags were placed there because someone gave their life while fighting for me. These people who didn't even know me fought so that I would have certain freedoms and a safer life. It always brings tears to my eyes, and makes me so proud.
Memorial Day started after the end of the Civil War. Then it was called Decoration Day. There are many stories about the beginning of this holiday, but the town of Boalsburg, PA claims to be the first to practice the decorating of the soldier's grave. According to wikepedia.com, on May 5, 1868, in his capacity as commander-in-chief of the Grand Army of the Republic - the organization for Union Civil War veterans - General John A. Logan issued a proclamation that "Decoration Day" should be observed nationwide and annually. It was observed for the first time on May 30 of the same year; according to folklore, the date was chosen because it was not the anniversary of a battle. According to the White House, the May 30 date was chosen as the optimal date for flowers to be in bloom.
Today the day is spent having cookouts, listening to political speeches, going to car races or golf tournaments. It marks the beginning of summer and the end of school. The name, Memorial Day was first used in 1882, and the original date of observance was changed from May 30 to the last Monday in May to allow for the 3 day week end and in compliance of the Uniform Monday Holiday Act established in 1968. There have been some efforts to move the observance back to the original date of May 30, because people believe that the 3-day weekend celebration takes away the meaning of the day.
However you plan to celebrate this day, please keep in mind the countless veterans who gave their lives in battle so that you can have the rights and the freedoms that you have today.
(Images from Google)