Memorial Day

Memorial Day (formerly Decoration Day) is observed on the last Monday of May. It commemorates the men and women who died in military service. In observance of the holiday, many people visit cemeteries and memorials, and volunteers place American flags on each grave site at national cemeteries.

A national moment of remembrance takes place at 3:00 p.m. local time.


Three years after the Civil War ended, on May 5, 1868, the head of an organization of Union veterans — the Grand Army of the Republic (GAR) — established Decoration Day as a time for the nation to decorate the graves of the war dead with flowers. Maj. Gen. John A. Logan declared that Decoration Day should be observed on May 30. It is believed that date was chosen because flowers would be in bloom all over the country.

The first large observance was held that year at Arlington National Cemetery, across the Potomac River from Washington, D.C.

Harbor flag

The ceremonies centered around the mourning-draped veranda of the Arlington mansion, once the home of Gen. Robert E. Lee. Various Washington officials, including Gen. and Mrs. Ulysses S. Grant, presided over the ceremonies.

d-day remembrance manchaug memorial

After speeches, children from the Soldiers’ and Sailors’ Orphan Home and members of the GAR made their way through the cemetery, strewing flowers on both Union and Confederate graves, reciting prayers and singing hymns.

Israel, my other country, did not have a memorial day as such. There was Independence Day, celebrating the country’s official nationhood … and a very somber Holocaust Day. Independence Day was the only non-religious holiday during which businesses and the government closed down.

Holocaust Day, the only thing that closed was the television and radio station which did not broadcast. The sirens blew for a full minute at 8 in the morning and again at 4 in the afternoon. Everybody stopped what they were doing and stood until the sirens stopped. Traffic stopped. Cars and trucks pulled to the roadside. Drivers got out and stood. Listened. Remembered.

Even if you were alone in your home, you stood to honor those dead who never carried a weapon and got no medals.

Official holidays become less important as we get older, but personal milestones become more meaningful. Calendar marking become more like seasonal reminders and less like a time to party.

Have a great weekend, however you celebrate. Remember those who fought … and those who died because a war happened to them.

It’s good to remember war, to hope we’ll someday stop fighting and find another way to settle our differences.


I have a friend, in her mid-fifties and just divorced, who has started the online dating game. She has found herself in an unusual situation. She “met” a guy on a dating site and they hit it off – on paper, or in cyber. They are texting and talking on the phone daily. They’ve sent each other tons of photos. He sent her flowers on her birthday and they “watched” a soccer match together (he’s Italian).

But in the six weeks they’ve “known each other”, they have been unable to meet in person. One of them has been out-of-town at all times. And he is about to go to Africa for two months for his job.

I told this story to two other friends, in their mid-sixties, who have a lot of experience with online dating. They had diametrically opposite reactions. One, The Cynic, said that no amount of phone or text conversations mean anything until you meet in person. She says, from experience, that you can’t tell how you’re going to react to or interact with someone until you are face to face. She’s had many similar situations when there’s been a lot of “talking” before meeting and everything seems great. Then they meet and nothing. Not even a second date.


From my own experience with online dating (that’s how I met my husband 18 years ago), I don’t think you have any idea how you’ll relate to the person until you talk to them on the phone. Writing back and forth can only tell you so much. But once you’ve talked on the phone, to me, you get a better sense of the personality and the gestalt of the person.

My other dating savvy friend, The Optimist, agrees with me. While meeting in person gives you a full picture of the person you’re dealing with, talking to the person is the next best thing. The Optimist thinks that, at this point, the odds are good that my novice dater and her online beau will “click” in person, as a couple.

Many people these days have online relationships that stay exclusively online. I’m told that’s true in the gaming community. That’s a different story. I’m talking about relationships that are meant to transition form the purely technological to the intensely up close and personal. From the conversational to the romantic/sexual. It’s that transition that I find fascinating.


I don’t know what will happen when my friend meets her Italian, but I’m hopeful. They’re having a great time together now and I think the odds are good this will translate into a good, personal connection. Then again, many couples meet in person, start a relationship with high hopes and it ends a short time later.

So who knows?