NOT YOUR USUAL SUSPECTS

A group blog featuring an international array of killer mystery, suspense, and romantic suspense writers. With premises and story lines different from your run-of-the-mill whodunits, we tend to write outside the box. We blog several times a week on all topics relating to romantic suspense and mystery, our writing, and our readers. We welcome all comments and often have guest bloggers. All our authors can be contacted separately, too, using their own social media links.

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Julie Moffet . Clare London . Cathy Perkins . Jean Harrington . Daryl Anderson . Nico Rosso . Maureen A. Miller . Sandy Parks . Lisa Q Mathews . Sharon Calvin . Lynne Connolly . Janis Patterson

Monday, May 25, 2015

HOW MUCH DO YOU REALLY KNOW ABOUT MEMORIAL DAY?

By Sandy Parks

Every year Memorial Day comes and goes. As a military family, we’ve celebrated in different ways over the years, but I rarely paused to think about the history behind the day or how it has changed over the years. And, yes, there have been changes, right up to the year 2000 when Congress passed THE NATIONAL REMEMBRANCE ACT. Huh, what’s that you say?

This act “encourages people of the United States to give something back to their country, which provides them so much freedom and opportunity.” Why do we need reminding? Are our newer generations forgetting how we’ve been able to keep our freedoms?

The truth is, whether older or newer generations, as soon as we settle into a comfortable life, we often forget about those who have fought on home soil or around the world for our beliefs. Back in 1918, my great-grandfather Lincoln Hubbard, a lawyer (and judge), wrote this in an essay while America was embroiled overseas in World War I: “If your nostrils have become so accustomed to the sweet air of liberty that you no longer appreciate it, if you have come to regard true equality before the law as commonplace, you have also forgotten the MEANING OF AMERICA.” Right on great-grandpa!

Ever wonder why newspapers and radio stations suggest a pause at 3pm on Memorial Day? The National Remembrance Act asked for a minute of silence at that hour to honor those who died in service to the nation. The Veterans of Foreign Wars also suggests that the flag should be flown at half-staff during morning hours, and at noon brought back to full staff.

Now let’s hit some of the historical details to uncover a few other common ways we celebrate today. Although there appears to have been many smaller local and even state events in 1866 and on, where women and children decorated graves of the fallen and covered them in flowers, the first official national day was celebrated on May 30, 1868 at Arlington National Cemetery. May 30 was chosen because the Union Veterans who set it up believed flowers would be in bloom everywhere in the nation (tell that to people up north who had snow fall this weekend). They draped in black General Lee’s former mansion (which had become part of the cemetery) and graced all the graves of soldiers from both sides of the Civil War with flowers. In the early years and even today, the remembrance is also called DECORATION DAY, the name my mom claimed her family called it when she was young.

On a side note, through the ages there must have been quite some “claim to fame” as the first place to celebrate Memorial Day, because I discovered in 1966 Lyndon Johnson declared Waterloo, New York as the birthplace of the remembrance.

As our country became involved in more wars (particularly with WWI), the day was expanded to honor all who had died in American wars. But when did we start getting the day off? Congress passed an act in 1971 calling for a national holiday. They placed it on the last Monday in May (most federal holidays are on Monday). On the average from the first national Memorial Day celebration at Arlington National Cemetery to today, about 5,000 people attend each year. Today small flags are placed on each grave.

Why do many towns and cities have parades and why did those come about? Tradition. President Andrew Johnson (Lincoln had just died) decided to honor those who served and died in the Civil War. On a morning in May 1865, soldiers marched through Washington DC to show their support.

So don’t forget:
- Fly flags at half staff until noon
- Take a minute of silence at 3pm
- Flowers and/or flags on veterans’ graves
- Take in a parade if your local area has one
- And find a special way to honor the memory of those who have died in service to the nation


Don’t let the day become one big picnic without remembering to put the DECORATION/MEMORIAL back in MEMORIAL Day.

6 comments:

Julie Moffett said...

What a great post! Thanks for sharing. Love all the historical tidbits and especially the quote from Great Grandpa Hubbard! :)

jean harrington said...

Sandy, Visited the Vicksburg, Mississippi, military cemetery a while back. All those white crosses row upon row--with a young man lying under each one. Would tear your heart out. Thanks for this reminder of a sad reality. We need to keep on remembering.

Rita said...

Thank you for a lovely post. So many to remember. So very grateful for them.

Anne Marie Becker said...

This is great information. I love your great grandfather's statement. It's true, I think, that sometimes we lose sight of the struggle that got our country here. I'm proud to have grown up a military brat. :)

Sandy Parks said...

Thanks for all the great comments. I sure wish I'd written this years ago. I learned things I hadn't known before, and certainly have even more respect for the day.

Larissa Emerald said...

Wonderful information, Sandy. I didn't realize the fly at half staff till noon tradition. We always put our flag up, now I'll have to add that tidbit. Thanks.

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