Memorial Day

Sometimes I think Americans forget what Memorial Day is all about. For so many of us, it’s about barbeques, pool parties, beer, and an excuse for fireworks. It’s not about any of those things. It’s about remembering everyone who died for our country. Their sacrifice for our freedom.

I noticed that the facebook chatter in my circle of friends this weekend was suspiciously devoid of any mention of Memorial Day or its meaning. I did a few searches and snagged a few pictures for this blog entry, but mostly things have been quiet. Sadly, we’re too busy with our barbeques and other plans to give it much thought.

Remembrance Day is celebrated in other parts of the world (Canada, Australia, UK, and others) on November 11, which corresponds to the American Veterans Day. But Veterans Day is not the same as Memorial Day. Memorial Day was created to honor men and women who died in service of the US Armed Forces. Veteran’s day is to honor everyone who is serving or who has served in the US Military. Veteran’s day occurs on the same date as Remembrance Day, which may be why there is such confusion between Memorial Day and Veterans Day.

While Remembrance Day dates back to WW I, the idea of Memorial Day dates back to the US Civil War. Both the North and the South had separate post-Civil War memorial days which were later united to become a single date. In the 20th century this was extended to include those who died in the Armed Services for all wars and became Memorial Day as we know it now.

Decorated Graves at Arlington National Cemetery on Memorial Day


The first national observance of Memorial Day was May 30th, 1868. Flowers were placed on the grave markers for both Northern and Confederate soldiers at Arlington National Cemetery. The Northern states called it “Decoration Day” in observance of the tradition of decorating grave markers of fallen soldiers. However, the Southern states had already established a Confederate Memorial Day to honor their fallen soldiers as early as 1866. The Confederate Memorial Days were originally celebrated at different times of the year for each state, but they became unified by the end of WW I. The symbol of the poppy came about as a result of WW I as well. (I think I will save that story for Veterans/Remembrance Day.)

If you are an American reading this, I hope you can take a moment to sit back, close your eyes and give thanks to all the soldiers who have died in the service of this country.

{References: Wikipedia and Memorial Day History}


© Manic Monday (manicmonday123) 2012. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Manic Monday (manicmonday123) with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

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2 thoughts on “Memorial Day

  1. Veterans are near and dear to my heart. And their families as well.

    Memorial Day is a big deal here. Sure, we hide it behind my father’s birthday and a BBQ and parades. But, we all know why we do it. On that day, we think of all of the friends that we have lost. We remember many young brave men AND women that fought to protect our country. But, most of all, my family remembers what wars take away from families. Sometimes, we lose the lives of friends and family. But, a lot of veterans do come home with their lives. But often, they have lost something else. We mourn the tragic losses, mental and physical, that affect military families.

    I didn’t know my father before the war. Actually, neither did my mother. She met him on a base in Germany after his service in Vietnam. That was still before he made his transition back to civilian life. And my mother was married to him when that occurred.

    He just couldn’t. And as time passed, the PTSD robbed him of his function. At that point, it was the early 80’s, and treatment isn’t what it is now. He spent twenty years in and out of psychiatric hospitals, either incapacitated by his mental illness or crippled by experimental drugs. The war robbed him of his ability to be a husband, a father, a provider, and a productive member of society.

    I’ve spent a lot of time mourning the absence of my father in my life. And even more time recovering from the hurt caused from him lashing out.

    Memorial Day isn’t just a day to remember our dead. It’s a day to remember all of the sacrifices. It’s a day to remember what each war was fought for and the devestation it caused. Memorial Day is a reflection on war, peace, and what we want for our future generations.

  2. The original creation of Memorial Day was to honor those who died in the Civil War. Since then, it has come to mean much more than that. War is about sacrifice, and death is not the only form of sacrifice. I agree that Memorial Day a good time for reflection on war, peace, and the future, but what I fear is that it is a holiday too easily forgotten by the American public.

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