Paying Respect This Memorial Day Weekend

May 27th, 2011

I never met my uncle Bill. He died long before I was born. I’ve only heard bits and pieces of his story, but here’s what I know. My uncle was a helicopter pilot. His chopper was shot down. He died in an unfamiliar land. He died defending the country he loved. He died so that people like me, one of many nephews he never met, could enjoy their freedoms.

The last Monday in May is recognized as Memorial Day. It’ a time to remember all the brave men and women who died while defending their country. Our country.

History Of Memorial Day

It started at the end of the Civil War. Women in several cities came together to place flags on the graves of fallen soldiers. Their actions inspired General John Logan, the National Commander of the Grand Army of the Republic. In 1868 he issued a proclamation that May 30 should be a day to observe this honorable practice.

Originally, May 30 was called Decoration Day, in reference to the flags that decorated Union and Confederate graves. This date was specifically chosen because it was not the anniversary of any Civil War battle.

The first Decoration Day was recognized in 1868. Flowers were placed around every grave at Arlington National Cemetery. It was a solemn and respectful day, dedicated to people who gave their lives in the service of their nation.

Name Change

After World War I, May 30 became known as Memorial Day. The occasion was no longer reserved for Civil War veterans. It was now a commemoration of all the American soldiers who lost their lives in the line of duty.

In 1971, Congress passed an act that declared Memorial Day would not always be observed on May 30. It would now be celebrated on the last Monday in May. This was done to establish a new Federal holiday and a 3-day weekend.

Celebrating Memorial Day

The traditions of Memorial Day are thought to be somewhat forgotten in modern times. Many believe that turning the event into a 3-day weekend caused people to lose sight of its true meaning. Instead of a time to honor fallen soldiers, it is now seen as a mini-vacation filled with barbecues, shopping sprees and outdoor activities.

There is a movement to remind Americans about the significance of Memorial Day. In 2000, The White House introduced the National Moment of Remembrance resolution. It asked all Americans to stop whatever they were doing at 3pm on Memorial Day to observe a moment of “remembrance and respect.”

On Memorial Day, the American flag is flown at half-mast until noon. This is done to honor our veterans. After noon, the flag is raised up to its full glory. This is done to demonstrate the American spirit. To prove that our soldiers did not die in vain. To show that we will always stand up for America, and more importantly, for each other.

How Will You Celebrate Memorial Day?

Memorial Day was designed to be shared with family and friends. It should be a day for barbecues, public outings and even shopping excursions. Because that’s what our brave soldiers fought for. To protect and preserve our freedoms. Our way of life. But it should also be a day to remember those fallen heroes. And a day to say thank you.

On Memorial Day, I’ll take some time to honor those who died so I could enjoy a beautiful May afternoon. I’ll say a silent thank you to my uncle, and wish I could have known him. I’ll say another thank you to the thousands of other soldiers I never had the privilege to meet. Where would I be without them?

How will you spend Memorial Day? Take a moment to leave a comment and share your thoughts on this holiday. And thank you for reading the PeopleFinders people search blog.

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