Monday, May 30, 2011


Memorial Day was once a day to remember those who lost their lives for our country. It actually began as a day when black families commemorated black soldiers who lost their lives during the Civil War. After World War I it was expanded to honor all those who lost their lives in U.S. military actions and became a federal holiday. In time it became a day to honor all those loved ones who have died. Even the name of the day has changed through the years. Originally it was Decoration Day, some of us knew it as Flag Day, and now it is Memorial Day.

As a child I thought the day was called Flag day because we put irises on family graves and my mother called irises flags. Once my mother took me to a "flag show" and I was surprised there were no grave markers, only rows and rows of irises of every color and size imaginable.

When it comes right down to it, Memorial Day is no longer a day, but a weekend. We took flowers to two cemeteries Saturday because we wanted to beat the rain that was forecast for Sunday and Monday. Both cemeteries were brilliant with floral displays and at one a program complete with bagpipes was in progress. Last night my husband and I watched a tribute to fallen soldiers on TV. It was excellent and it impressed me because no politicians used it to further their agendas.

With each passing year I have more graves to visit. This year is particularly touching as the first Memorial Day since my sister's passing with such a short interval since my father and brother went to the other side. Each year my father words become more poignant, "I know more people at the cemetery than at church." He only lacked four months of reaching his centennial birthday when he was called home. I'm an adult with grown children and eleven grandchildren, but I never stop missing my parents and wishing Daddy and I could take one more fishing trip or that Mama and I could go for another walk and have a long talk.

Memorial Day has become a three day weekend, a time for summer cookouts (except this year-it's hard to grill in the rain), a chance to get away for a few days, even to shop sales and that's okay, but along with enjoying time with our living family members, it is good to remember those who have gone ahead. I believe individuals and families, communities and countries, are stronger when they pause to remember loved ones no longer with us. We owe soldiers who gave their lives for our freedom, parents and ancestors who made our lives possible, and the memories shared with those who are gone continue to enrich our lives. Let us not be among those who fail to remember.

This is the last day of the May Wish List Contest!  A new contest will begin tomorrow. 


Tarmy said...

I always appreciate your blogs about why we have the holidays we do. I'm about 30 and it seems like I missed most of that education in my growing up years. I know we took flowers to cemetery's and now I wish I were close enough to any of my loved ones graves to take them this year. How grateful I am for those who've died in defense of our freedoms.

taylorfamily83316 said...

I have a Grandmother, who is in her 90's, and she has always called what we know as Memorial Day, Decoration Day. There is a schedule for her and other family members that they adhere too, almost to the letter. The weekend includes cleaning the gravesites of my Grandfather and Great-Grandfather, placing flags, attending the town parade, complete with antique fire engines, a marching band, and the local VFW chapter, all dressed up in their regalia, all topped off with a family picnic on Monday afternoon. I have not been in years myself, but truly love hearing about everyone's experiences. The one thing that is on everyone's mind, and talked about often is the loved oves we have lost, and while sad moments are shared, happy moments and memories are remembered and shared each year.

Lisa said...

Being a career Army Brat and having just served alongside my military friends aboard the USNS Comfort, this is a very poignant Memorial day for me. Near my home there is a war memorial with the inscription..."All gave some and some gave all." It's a stark reminder that freedom isn't free.

Jennie said...

It's sad really that so many of our holidays meanings have almost disappeared and are not taught to or observed by younger people. Tarmy, Taylor Family, and Lisa I appreciate your comments and thank you for continuing to care.