Monday, May 25, 2009

Memorial Day Musings

Happy Memorial Day!

Thank you to all our brave men and women who serve in the United State Military.

“Not only are they commemorated by columns and inscriptions, but there dwells also an unwritten memorial of them, graven not on stone but in the hearts of men.”--Pericles (c.600 B.C.E.)

You are not forgotten.

"In Flanders Fields"
John McCrae, 1915.

In Flanders fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses, row on row
That mark our place; and in the sky
The larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.
We are the Dead. Short days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,

Loved and were loved, and now we lie
In Flanders fields.

Take up our quarrel with the foe:
To you from failing hands we throw
The torch; be yours to hold it high.
If ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
In Flanders fields.

Memorial Day is here. I have been thinking about what it means to me. I have been remembering those who have fallen, those who are currently serving both over seas and at home, those families who have loved ones in form of sons, daughters, fathers, mothers, sisters, brothers, cousins, aunts, uncles, husbands, wives serving active duty, national guard, reserve, or are on inactive ready reserve. But then I got to wondering about others so what does it mean to you?

Is it the start of summer? A three day weekend to be enjoyed through various outdoor activities like camping, fishing, going to the park? Is it a day or days of watching NASCAR? Is it a day to be cozily snuggled on the couch with drinks and snacks watching the Indy 500? Is it a time of being with friends and family at a picnic or BBQ either at a park, beach or in the back yard?

Is it a day to visit the cemetery in order to pay respect to the dearly departed? Either by laying flowers, wreaths, or placing flags on their graves? Or maybe do a little care taking maintenance of the plot? Do you participate in the 3 p.m. moment of silence or are you not aware or unsure of what this is?

Do you watch the televised coverage of scenes from Arlington Cemetery? Or do you participate in your own local community cemetery tribute to the soldiers who have died? Do you take the time to visit with a veteran on this day or sometime during the weekend? Do you ignore the members of the VFW with their "Buddy Poppy"? Do you accept one and offer a donation? Or are you embarrassed that you were approached or spoken to while others were able to pass on by? Do you stop to say thank you to the veteran and soldiers that you see through out your day to day activities on this day, this weekend, or at any other time of the year? Just what does this sacred solemn day really mean to you?

Today or at some point this weekend you will either be offered the opportunity to or participate in some type of outdoor activity or get together. Maybe it is the start of your summer holiday so you hold a backyard BBQ get together. Maybe it's time for an annual family reunion or get together at a local park or other outdoor location. While your enjoying your food, time with friends and family, and fun; do you give thought to how wonderful and lucky you are to be able to do it? Does how wonderful being free to do your activities and get together cross your mind at all? Do you give pause and thanks in acknowledgment for the freedom to pursue happiness and joy by doing what you do? Do you take time to remember and thank those who died to preserve our rights?

So do you take time somewhere in your busy weekend to reflect and feel thankful for the freedom to have this holiday weekend? Do you reflect and feel thankful for the countless other freedoms that you enjoy daily? Freedoms that are so precious and unique to us here in the United States of America. Do you remember those who died or lost a part of themselves (physically, mentally, emotionally or a combo of all these) so that you can enjoy the freedoms your currently enjoying?

I was actually shocked to hear that Memorial Day means nothing more to some of my friends than the start of the summer fun activities and getting to taste auntie's (or other family members or friends members or friends) potato salad or other favorite food that is associated with summer time. They sadly don't feel that there is a reason to remember a bunch of faceless and nameless soldiers who died in some cases a very long time ago. To another set it is the signal that the school year is over or about to end shortly and that fun can commence.

So let me ask you again what does Memorial Day mean to you? What does Memorial Day really mean? Why do we have it and do you know? With the above questions swirling through your mind let me share some tidbits of information about Memorial Day that I have found.

Memorial Day, originally was called Decoration Day. It is a day set aside for the remembrance of those brave men and women who have died in our nation's service preserving our freedoms.

Memorial Day was first widely observed on May 30, 1868.

It is a patriotic holiday in the United States of America that is celebrated on the last Monday in May. This was established in 1971 by Congress. However, Memorial Day once had a fixed date of May 30th. There are many who feel that we should return to a one day observation and celebration instead of the day weekend that has been ongoing since 1971.

There are many versions as to where Memorial day originated. Many places claim to be the birthplace of Memorial Day. However in 1966, the federal government declared Waterloo, NY to be the official birthplace. The Waterloo, NY townspeople were the first recognized group to pay honor to the soldiers who had died in the Civil War. They paid their respects by closing their business for the day, flying flags at half-mast, and placing flowers and flags on the graves of the fallen Civil War soldiers.

Because of lingering hostilities between the Union (North) and the Confederates (South), southerners created their own version of Memorial Day to honor the Confederate dead. It's Called Confederate Memorial Day and remains a state holiday in many southern states.

While the first to be honored by a Memorial Day observance where those who had died, were injured, and had survived the Civil War. Now it honors those who died in the many wars and military actions our nation has been apart of. To name a few: Spanish-American War, World War I, World War II, the Korean War, Vietnam, and Desert Storm.

The expansion from only the Civil War soldiers being remembered and honored to any American solider of any U.S. war or military action occurred after World War I.

The Memorial Day tradition involving the Indy 500 race has been ongoing since 1911.

The Memorial Day tradition of paying respects to graves has expanded from just the Civil War solider to all soldiers in U.S. wars or military action to that of friends and family members as well.

Memorial day is meant as a day of dignity and solemnity to pay tribute to those who fought for our freedom. It is also a day to reflect on our freedoms that we so freely enjoy.

All U.S. Flags should be displayed at half-staff during the morning hours. At noon they should be raised back to full-staff.

VFW Buddy Poppies are still assembled by disabled and needy veterans.

In February 1924 the VFW registered the name "Buddy Poppy" with the U.S. Patent Office. No other organization, firm, or individual can legally use the name "Buddy Poppy".

One flower that is associated with war and veterans is the red poppy. It was aided in its strong associated with war and veterans is the red poppy. It was aided in its strong association by the poem "In Flander's Field" written by Col. John McCrae of Canada.

Now that you have some tidbits of information regarding Memorial Day, I ask again what does Memorial Day mean to you? Have your answers changed any?

So take the day to remember those dearly departed friends, loved ones, and spend time with family members and friends who are still with us. Enjoy your BBQ's and picnics and holiday get together and the unofficial start to summer.

Bud do take a moment to reflect on the freedoms your enjoying and remember the brave men and women who gave their very lives so you can have the freedom to enjoy your holiday. If you see a veteran or solider don't look away but acknowledge him or her. Thank them for the sacrifices they either made or are making so that you and I and all the rest here in the United States can continue enjoying the freedoms we have.

In closing I share with you the unofficial yet highly popular words of Taps, links for further information, and a big heartfelt Thank You to our service men and women who are so brave.

Words to Taps (Note: there are no "official" words to Taps below are the most popular.)

Day is done,
gone the sun,
From the hills,
from the lake,
From the skies.
All is well,
God is nigh.
Go to sleep,
peaceful sleep,
May the solider
or sailor
God keep.
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.
Speedeth all
To their rest.

Fades the light;
And afar
Goeth day,
And the stars
Shineth bright,
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.

Here are some Informational links on Memorial Day:

Thank you to all who have severed in the military!

Thank you to all who are serving presently in active military and national guard units!

Thank you for the sacrifices you make and made for our freedom!

Thank you for the sacrifices your families make so that you may serve.

No comments:

Post a Comment