Monday, May 28, 2012
~ Always Memorial Day ~
Memorial Day, an American holiday observed on the last Monday of May, honors men and women who died while serving in the U.S. military. Originally known as Decoration Day, it originated in the years following the Civil War and became an official federal holiday in 1971. Many Americans observe Memorial Day by visiting cemeteries or memorials, holding family gatherings and participating in parades.
Early Observances of Memorial Day
The Civil War claimed more lives than any conflict in U.S. history, requiring the establishment of the country’s first national cemeteries. By the late 1860s Americans in various towns and cities had begun holding springtime tributes to these countless fallen soldiers, decorating their graves with flowers and reciting prayers.
It is unclear where exactly this tradition originated; numerous different communities may have independently initiated the memorial gatherings. Nevertheless, in 1966 the federal government declared Waterloo, New York, the official birthplace of Memorial Day. Waterloo— which had first celebrated the day on May 5, 1866— was chosen because it hosted an annual, community-wide event, during which businesses closed and residents decorated the graves of soldiers with flowers and flags.
On May 5, 1862, General John A. Logan, leader of an organization for Northern Civil War veterans, called for a nationwide day of remembrance later that month. “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,” he proclaimed. The date of Decoration Day, as he called it, was chosen because it wasn’t the anniversary of any particular battle.
On the first Decoration Day, General James Garfield made a speech at Arlington National Cemetery, and 5,000 participants decorated the graves of the 20,000 Union and Confederate soldiers buried there. Many Northern states held similar commemorative events and reprised the tradition in subsequent years; by 1890 each one had made Decoration Day an official state holiday. Many Southern states, on the other hand, continued to honor their dead on separate days until after World War I.
Evolution of Memorial Day
Memorial Day, as Decoration Day gradually came to be known, originally honored only those lost while fighting in the Civil War. But during World War I the United States found itself embroiled in another major conflict, and the holiday evolved to commemorate American military personnel who died in all wars.
For decades, Memorial Day continued to be observed on May 30, the date Logan had selected for the first Decoration Day. But in 1968 Congress passed the Uniform Monday Holiday Act, which established Memorial Day as the last Monday in May in order to create a three-day weekend for federal employees; the change went into effect in 1971. The same law also declared Memorial Day a federal holiday.
Memorial Day Traditions
Cities and towns across the United States host Memorial Day parades each year, often incorporating military personnel and members of veterans’ organizations. Some of the largest parades take place in Chicago, New York and Washington, D.C. Americans also observe Memorial Day by visiting cemeteries and memorials. On a less somber note, many people throw parties and barbecues on the holiday, perhaps because it unofficially marks the beginning of summer.
Honoring soldiers, patriots, freedom-fighters past, ancient and future; in the United States and other countries.
On this day we honor the memory of those who have died while in the military service of the United Sates of America. It is also fitting that we remember all those who have died for the cause of freedom, whatever country they are from; for we are indeed all one family and we share each other's common destiny on this planet that God created for us all.
Likewise, we think of those who died believing they were fighting for freedom, though the political leaders in their comm and may have had other intentions in mind. Our thoughts also turn to those who died defending the cause of truth and virtue, whether or not they donned the uniform of their respective countries; and we think not only of those who thus sacrificed in our generation, but in generations past, all the way back to our first parents in the garden of Eden.
There have been many heroes down through the ages, both celebrated as well as unknown, who have given their all for the sake of a better world. Their combined efforts have given us what we have today, laying the foundation for us so that we now are on the brink of achieving the most ideal society attainable by mankind.
May we go forward, building on the legacy they left behind, drawing from the courage they exhibited, to bring to fruition a society of freedom and peace for which they helped labor.
The enemies of freedom and civility have provided us with obstacles that have made us strong. Today we honor the many lives that have been lost in the battles that have been fought that peace and freedom might prevail.
Today, we also recognize that there may yet be many lives lost, for not only are we closer to achieving the ideal society, but the enemies of freedom have also never been closer to achieving their goal of a counterfeit society of peace -- one of compulsion at the point of a sword. As this war comes to a head, there will yet be many who will lay down their lives in defense of truth and virtue.
May we be faithful to the legacy we have been given, so that truth and freedom may prevail.
~ A Soldier Coming Home ~
A Story is told about a soldier who was finally coming home after having fought in Vietnam. He called his parents from San Francisco.
"Mom and Dad, I'm coming home, but I've a favor to ask. I have a friend I'd like to bring home with me."
"Sure," they replied, "We'd love to meet him."
"There's something you should know the son continued, he was hurt pretty badly in the fighting. He stepped on a land mine and lost an arm and a leg. He has nowhere else to go, and I want him to come live with us."
"I'm sorry to hear that son. Maybe we can help find him somewhere to live."
"No, Mom and Dad, I want him to live with us."
"Son," said the father, "you don't know what you're asking. Someone with such a handicap would be a terrible burden on us. We have our own lives to live, and we can't let something like this interfere with our lives. I think you should come home and forget about this guy. He'll find a way to live on his own."
At this point, the son hung up the phone. The parents heard nothing more from him. A few days later, however, they received a call from the San Francisco police. Their son had died after falling from a building, they were told. The police believed it was suicide. The grief-stricken parents flew to San Francisco and were taken to the city morgue to identify the body of their son. They recognized him, but to their horror they also discovered something they didn't know, their son had only one arm and leg.
The parents in this story are like many of us. We find it easy to love those who are good-looking or fun to have around, but we don't like people who inconvenience us or make us feel uncomfortable, We would rather stay away from people who aren't as healthy, beautiful, or as smart as we are.
Thankfully, there's someone who won't treat us that way. Someone who loves us with unconditional love that welcomes us into the forever family, regardless of how messed up we are.
Tonight, before you tuck yourself in for the night, say a little prayer that God will give you the strength you need to accept people as they are, and to help us all to be more understanding of those who are different from us!
~ Taps ~
Day is done,
gone the sun,
From the hills,
from the lake,
From the skies.
All is well,
God is nigh.
Go to sleep,
May the soldier
On the land
or the deep,
Safe in sleep.
Love, good night,
Must thou go,
When the day,
And the night
Need thee so?
All is well.
To their rest.
Fades the light;
And the stars
Fare thee well;
Day has gone,
Night is on.
Thanks and praise,
For our days,
'Neath the sun,
Neath the stars,
'Neath the sky,
As we go,
This we know,
God is nigh.