Memorial Day

This Monday I woke to find that the Boy Scouts had already put up the big flags on our street, as well as every street I could see from my front door step. They had to have risen very early to plant so many so evenly.

It was a beautiful day; the kind of day where my dad would have stepped outside, taken a deep breath and said “Would you take a look at this day?” Then he would have run our own big flag up the flagpole while whistling a very flowery version of some British marching tune. He always took a little time to tell us all what a wonderful country we live in and how important it was to remember those that sacrificed their lives in the pursuit of liberty at home and abroad.
As a young boy it seemed like a lot of bother to honor people we didn’t even know. Little did I know, it was not only not a bother, but that our Memorial Day was already what some have come to refer to as a watered down version of the true Memorial Day.
Memorial Day was officially proclaimed on May 5th, 1868 by General John Logan, in his General Order No. 11, and was first observed on May 30th 1868, when flowers were placed on the graves of Union and Confederate soldiers at Arlington National Cemetery. It was recognized by all of the northern states by 1890, but the southern states hung on to their separate observances of a day of remembrance until after WWI when the holiday was changed from celebrating the dead of the Civil War to celebrating the dead of any war. In 1971 the observance of Memorial Day was changed to the last Monday in May to ensure a government 3 day weekend and observed, so say the critiques, by running a big flag up the flagpole, then going out to play. On January 19, 1999 Senator Inouye introduced bill 189 to the Senate, which proposes to restore the traditional day of observance of Memorial Day back to May 30th instead of the last Monday in May.

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