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.

Categories: #American-history, #Photography, celebration, History, Holidays, War and battles

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20 replies

  1. Remembering.
    May we never forget.


  2. Maybe we could end wars by making sure no-one could make profits out of selling the weapons people need to start them??? Probably would not stop tribal or civil wars but it could sure cut down on the deqath toll and the inter-national ones, which is no bad thing.

    Remembering those who died in them, while being a worthy thing to appreciate their sacrifices, or more importantly honouring and caring for those who they left behind without fathers or husbands (and mother’s and wives too) is never going to stop another war from starting. Hasn’t happened in any country in 10,000 years of warfare. 😦



    • We could stop wars in a million ways, mostly by not making them so profitable — and not just here, but everywhere. That was true 1000 years ago, too. It’s not looking very likely. This is humanity’s big issue. We’re always about to start peace, but wars just get in our way.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Great photos. Thanks for sharing👍


  4. I hope so, too. But, as my dad said, somehow war is easier for people than peace. Godnose why.

    Liked by 1 person

    • That falls into that huge category of things that you can explain to me for days and I still won’t really understand. I’m beginning to think there are things I’m not capable of understanding. They lay outside my ability to reason.

      Liked by 1 person

      • You should not be able to understand war with the rational mind. If you could, you’d be mentally ill. Read “Thank God for the Atom Bomb” for a further explication of that idea. Very wise book.


  5. Happy Memorial Day Marilyn.


  6. Reblogged this on Espiritu en Fuego/A Fiery Spirit and commented:
    Memorial Day ~~ We remember those who gave their lives in service to our country.


  7. Good Morning, Marilyn, Just reblogged your Memorial Day reflection. Thanks and all the best for the day.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Reblogged this on Views from the Edge and commented:
    After learning that the Memorial Day piece taped for MPR’s “All Things Considered,” I opened Marilyn Armstrong’s post on SERENDIPITY. Best wishes for a thoughtful Memorial Day.

    Liked by 1 person

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