TIME AND REMEMBERANCE – MEMORIAL DAY 2021

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.

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,

It’s good to remember war, to hope we’ll someday stop fighting and find another way to settle our differences. Probably it’s a bit overly optimistic, and hope lives on.



Categories: American history, History, Holidays, Photography, War and battles

Tags: , , , , , ,

14 replies

    • I think we not only need to ban personal guns. We need to ban WEAPONS and the industries that go with them. As long as everyone can make war, they will. And I don’t think it has much to do with “us.” WE don’t want war, but someone does. There is a lot of money made from war. Too much.

      Liked by 2 people

      • Well written, well said.

        I like the way you wrap this piece: “Official holidays become less important as we grow older, but personal milestones become more meaningful.”

        During my TV news career, holidays always stood out because we had to put historical perspective on these days. Memorial Day meant tracking many wars, the “big” and the “small” wars that took so many lives.

        During the 60’s and 70’s, writing Memorial Day pieces was complex because we were still mired in the Vietnam War which split our nation ‘s sensibilities. Patriotism was a hot button topic. Were you a patriot if you answered your nation’s call and became embroiled in a conflict that was never clear?

        Family and friends split unlike anytime since our nation’s civil war. We bonded when we paid tribute to those who had fallen – regardless of our politics. Vietnam Veterans were never fully embraced as patriots or heroes — except on holidays like Memorial Day.

        I recall covering a Memorial Day Ceremony in the 70’s. A retired Marine who had befriended me after learning of my stint in the Corps, stood at my side. We solemnly listened and watched as Taps was played. The old Marine said, “Garry, this is damn sad and it so angers me. These people are shedding crocodile tears. It’s Memorial Day Tears. They don’t feel a damn thing except maybe guilt”. I nodded.

        I received a lot of complaints after my report which included the Veteran’s comments. I was accused of not being patriotic, of not understanding Memorial day.

        I always thought of the complainers as “Cocktail Warriors”. They are probably around today.

        Liked by 2 people

  1. THANK YOU FOR THIS BEAUTIFUL REMINDER OF MEMORIAL DAY. LET’S HOPE WE NEVER SEE ANOTHER WAR, AND AND THE BOYS WHO WANT TO SEE WHO HAS THE LARGEST CONTENT THEMSELVES WITH CIGARS.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Hope, yes let’s never give that up.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I frequently suspect that if arms making and selling weren’t one of the major industries on planet Earth, there would be fewer wars.

      I remember my mother described World War I as “every nation in Europe was armed to the teeth. It just needed one little bang to set it off.” Despite World War II and all the personal losses that came with it, when she said “the Great War,” she meant World War I.

      Liked by 1 person

      • “Where have all the flowers gone”

        Like

        • THAT SONG BEAUTIFULLY CAPTURES THE MESSAGE,,,,,,”OH,WHEN WILL THEY EVER LEARN?” I’M WRITING IN ALL CAPS NOW SO THAT I CAN SEE WHEN I MAKE TYPOS AND CAN CORRECT THEM.

          Liked by 1 person

          • Patricia, I love the Joan Baez version of “Where Have All The Flowers Gone?'” although the first version I heard was by the Kingston Trio which was popular during my college radio days. We played it a lot. I was the folk music show host among other things during those long ago days.

            The lyrics are still relevant and will be as long as we have war and people who tout war but never serve.

            Like

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