The first recognized community organized Memorial Day event was held in Carbondale, Illinois in 1866. It was originally known as Decoration Day and changed to Memorial Day in 1882.
It was originally hoped that the observance would be kept up from year to year as long as one survivor of the war remained alive to honor the memory of his departed comrades.
I would like to ask you to remember on Memorial Day:
Remember to check the condition of your United States flag, to many it is JUST a symbol of our nation. I drive down the street and see large houses that use the flag as a centerpiece of landscaping, cellular towers that are disguised as flag poles, commercial businesses that use the flag as visual identifier for their location, and regular houses that fly the flag. Whereas the weeds are pulled or sprayed and the edges of the lawn are trimmed, the flowers are plentiful, the patio is neatly arranged and yet our flag is displayed in tatters and flies as if a rag with no value. Please remember to check my flag that is flying in your presence. Not just my flag but the flag of those who have served and stood up for the flag wherever it has flown at sea, overseas, at home, on our ships, above the battalions and around the world.
If the flag flies in tatters, please lower it. When your answer for a new flag is the cost, then trade places with those who reside in our national cemeteries.
As you get ready to picnic, party and celebrate, I ask you to remember one person that you have met somewhere in your life that has served and stood for that flag. Remember that one crazy old guy on your street that always flew the flag. Remember the aunt, uncle, brother, sister, mom, dad or friend that “joined” up. Remember them and think, “Why did they ‘join up?’” Remember what branch they served in. Remember something about their service, some moral or ethical lesson or value that you actually have been part of or have heard the story and tell someone else that story.
Remember back to, if you ever went to a Memorial Day service, what it was about and who took you to that service. Then remember why you quit going. If you don’t remember going or don’t remember why you quit going ... to those you serve as a role model, will they ever go to Memorial Day and learn what it is about, let alone remember what Memorial Day is for?
I remember Great Uncle Vinnie telling of flying blimps in World War II and then joining the Army Air Corps. I remember Uncle Irv serving in the OSI, and Uncle James and Dennis serving in the Army. I remember my dad telling about being 18 years old in the Western Pacific in the Navy and hoping he would get home.
I remember being allowed by the old guys to dig holes for the flag poles in Maplewood Cemetery that started with about 50 flags and now numbers a couple of hundred. I remember Uncle Jim being in the Canadian Armed Forces along with Grandpa Clarke. Maybe I was raised in a different time and world where many in the family served. I remember my own service, and I live and remember that I have served with Giants of Men and Women for whom there was no greater obligation than to serve.
As I taught the lessons of Memorial Day to my family and children, I actually never gave thought that part of my remembrance would be that my son is a wounded warrior and his son’s remembrance will be that his dad is a wounded warrior who served for him.
I remember that the flag is a symbol of those who have served and the reverence that it shows as it lays across the coffin as those veterans pass.
I remember that Memorial Day is the 27th of May 2019 and I also remember that those services of memorial are important to me as if I was the lone survivor to recognize those who served.
For those who have fallen on the battlefield, the glory dies not and the grief will pass. Their honor will be held.