The Meaning of Memorial Day
by Fred Langston
The custom of placing flowers on the graves of the war dead began in 1866 and in 1868 General John A Logan declared May 30 would be a day to decorate with flowers the graves of comrades who died in defense of their country.
After World War I the day was extended to pay homage and honor the Dead of all wars. The most solemn ceremony conducted on Memorial Day is the placing of a wreath at the "Tomb of the Unknowns" located in Arlington National Cemetery.
Memorial Day had a more popular name called Decoration Day as it is the day when we offer flowers to our soldier dead and lay flowers on the hallowed ground where these heroes sleep after having given their lives in the causes of our country.
The parades, floats, marching bands and the lines of veterans from World War I, World War II, Korea, Vietnam and Desert Storm all pay tribute to those gallant men and women who willingly answered their country's call And who paid the ultimate price.
We of today's America owe them so much and seem to appreciate them so little. Many of us have only the foggiest notion of the real meaning of Memorial Day. Because of their valor and deeds we do not have to tremble at the sound of Nazi jackboots pounding down our streets, nor have to humble ourselves at the feet of a communist commissar, or pay tribute to a demi-god wielding a samurai sword. Nor do we need to fear any one of the long line of dictators and war lords who have paraded themselves across the pages of recent history.
It would behoove us to humble ourselves for just one moment each year and return to the old American tradition of slowing our pace at 11 A.M. on Memorial Day, pay reverence and thank those honored dead for what they did. Far too often our nation takes for granted the freedoms all Americans enjoy.
Let us remember these freedoms were bought and paid for by the lives of others few of us actually knew. They came from all walks of life and regions of the country. But they all had one thing in common - love and loyalty to country.
By honoring the nation's war dead, we preserve their memory and thus their service and sacrifices in the memories of future generations.
Frederick G Langston
State of Washington Legislative Officer
The Veterans of Foreign Wars
POB 3111, Wenatchee WA 98807-3111
509-662-7288 FAX 509-667-2016
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