“______________ Day”

Posted: May 31, 2011 in Wandering Thoughts

For love of country they accepted death…  ~James A. Garfield

Memorial Day the most recent of days set aside for me to celebrate. One day a year set aside to remember the heroes of wars both past and present. i am really looking at the idea of celebrating just one day a year for all the things we have made into holidays. Mothers Day, Fathers Day, Presidents Day, and the list goes on. i wonder, am i really so busy that i can not remember the people associated with these holidays more often. Is it enough to remember or celebrate my mother or father just one day a year? my following thoughts regarding yesterday which was Memorial Day apply to all the “Days” that have been tagged as three-day weekends made for celebrating one thing or the other. i have missed the mark in truly remembering these important people even for one day a year. Can i remember anyone justly when i do it one day a year? i wonder if i am actually doing a disservice more than honoring. i hope the following words regarding Memorial Day will stir my heart to give more than 30 seconds of remembrance to anyone who has been labeled by the word “_____________ Day.”

Traditional observance of Memorial day has diminished over the years. Many Americans including myself have forgotten the meaning and traditions of Memorial Day. At many cemeteries, the graves of the fallen are increasingly ignored, neglected. i gave no thought to the proper flag etiquette for the day, in fact i have no flag. While there are towns and cities that still hold Memorial Day parades, no such thing in the area i live. Some people think the day is for honoring any and all dead, and not just those fallen in service to our country. i do know better than that, but so what, i still did nothing to remember those who have fought for me and are still fighting for me. It’s as though i have a sense of entitlement.

Since the late 50’s on the Thursday before Memorial Day, the 1,200 soldiers of the 3d U.S. Infantry place small American flags at each of the more than 260,000 gravestones at Arlington National Cemetery. They then patrol 24 hours a day during the weekend to ensure that each flag remains standing. Now there is some committment. In 1951, the Boy Scouts and Cub Scouts of St. Louis began placing flags on the 150,000 graves at Jefferson Barracks National Cemetery as an annual Good Turn, a practice that continues to this day. Again, committment. More recently, beginning in 1998, on the Saturday before the observed day for Memorial Day, the Boys Scouts and Girl Scouts place a candle at each of approximately 15,300 grave sites of soldiers buried at Fredericksburg and Spotsylvania National Military Park on Marye’s Heights (the Luminaria Program). And in 2004, Washington D.C. held its first Memorial Day parade in over 60 years.

To help re-educate and remind Americans more specifically, people like me, of the true meaning of Memorial Day, the “National Moment of Remembrance” resolution was passed on Dec 2000 which asks that at 3 p.m. local time, for all Americans “To voluntarily and informally observe in their own way a Moment of remembrance and respect, pausing from whatever they are doing for a moment of silence or listening to ‘Taps.” i missed the mark, but not because i don’t care about our men at war, but because it wasn’t important enough to stop for that moment. Truth be told i knew nothing of this legislation but that’s an excuse as i am fully aware of the men and women who have and still do defend this country.

The Moment of Remembrance is a step in the right direction to returning the meaning back to the day. As a starting point what is needed is a full return to the original day of observance. Set aside one day out of the year for the nation to get together to remember, reflect and honor those who have given their all in service to their country. Many feel that when Congress made the day into a three-day weekend in with the National Holiday Act of 1971, it made it all the easier for people to be distracted from the spirit and meaning of the day. As the VFW stated in its 2002 Memorial Day address: “Changing the date merely to create three-day weekends has undermined the very meaning of the day. No doubt, this has contributed greatly to the general public’s nonchalant observance of Memorial Day.”

All that may be true and may help but for me i must get rid of my sense of entitlement and remember these people, if only for a moment on a daily basis. One day a year is to little to late. Remembrancer is not sufficient for these men and women. Remembrancer is not adequate for my mother, father, grandmother, grandfather. Remembrancer is nothing when i consider the cost of being the President of my United States. No remembrance is the wrong term. Gratefulness for them will serve better than any remembrance of them.

These heroes are dead.  They died for liberty – they died for us.  They are at rest.  They sleep in the land they made free, under the flag they rendered stainless, under the solemn pines, the sad hemlocks, the tearful willows, and the embracing vines.  They sleep beneath the shadows of the clouds, careless alike of sunshine or of storm, each in the windowless Place of Rest.  Earth may run red with other wars – they are at peace.  In the midst of battle, in the roar of conflict, they found the serenity of death.  I have one sentiment for soldiers living and dead:  cheers for the living; tears for the dead.  ~Robert G. Ingersoll



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