To many Americans, Memorial Day means a weekend of fun, hot dogs and hamburgers, and family time at the park or in the backyard. Some people confuse Memorial Day with Veteran’s Day which is a day honoring the men and women who have served in the military both living and dead whereas Memorial Day is to honor those who have given their lives for their country. Though uncertain as to when or where Memorial Day actually began, it was first set aside as an official holiday by General John Logan, commander of the Grand Army of the Republic on May 5, 1868 following on the the heels of the bloodiest and saddest of all American wars, the Civil War. Memorial Day was first observed on May 30, 1868 when flowers were placed on the graves of Union and Confederate soldiers at Arlington National Cemetery.
Since that time, observance of Memorial Day dwindled. People have forgotten its meaning. Most often the graves of those who gave their all for their country are ignored and no longer are there many parades to honor those who gave their all.
I remember the little graveyard near my Grandfather McNeal’s house when I was a child. In honor of those who died for the sake of their country small American flags were placed upon their graves. My grandfather explained to me what the flags were for and we walked the graveyard silently paying respect to the graves bearing those flags, some from the American Civil War. All these years I have remembered that memorable time with my grandfather and the feeling of respect and tenderness I felt standing before those flag marked graves. It is a feeling that I hope we can all share as we celebrate and honor our fallen service men and women this Memorial Day.
And I also want to honor the families of those who gave their greatesst gift to our country. They have lost someone they loved dearly for the sake of our country and their lives will be forever changed.