Why celebrate Memorial Day?

Memorial Day is the unofficial first day of summer, but it began as so much more. After the civil war it was begun as a time of remembrance of the lives lost in battle. Today, it is also confused with Veteran's Day--a day to thank all servicemen and women. But the genesis of Memorial Day was much more somber.

In our small town, every year, a hundred or so of us gather at the local cemetery to hear the names of the deceased soldiers who were from our small town. We pray together and salute them and the flag they died protecting. Then we snack on cookies and iced tea and visit with neighbors and family members around the gravestones for a time.

My husband's family homesteaded their farm in our small community, so we can trace our roots back pretty far here and we listen for the names of his ancestors to be read each year. Then while Grandma visits and the kids munch cookies, we wander through the gravestones to find the ones marked "BLYTHE" and Duane tells how they are related to us. When the kids were little, it was more about the flowers and the cookies, but now that the kids are grown, they can almost remember the stories well enough to tell their dad if he missed a part of the story. Every year we take a new picture of the headstones and talk about the people who created our country--our little community--and died protecting it.

Both of my grandfathers, as well, fought in the military. As a child, we never heard stories of the war, but as I grew up they began sharing a few details of what they saw.  Most of those details died with my grandpas, but I know enough to give thanks for them and their service.

So today while we pack our picnic lunch, build a bonfire to cook s'mores and ready the boats to enjoy on the lake, we take time to say thanks to the men and women who died so we have the freedom to goof off. Spend a minute or two in contemplation of what our home may have been like without the sacrifices of these brave folks. I have no idea how different my world may have been, but I know that I am thankful that my grandparents valued the future enough to fight for my freedom.

Decoration Day
by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

Sleep, comrades, sleep and rest
  On this Field of the Grounded Arms,
Where foes no more molest,
  Nor sentry's shot alarms! 

Ye have slept on the ground before,
  And started to your feet
At the cannon's sudden roar,
  Or the drum's redoubling beat. 

But in this camp of Death
  No sound your slumber breaks;
Here is no fevered breath,
  No wound that bleeds and aches. 

All is repose and peace,
  Untrampled lies the sod;
The shouts of battle cease,
  It is the Truce of God! 

Rest, comrades, rest and sleep!
  The thoughts of men shall be
As sentinels to keep
  Your rest from danger free. 

Your silent tents of green
  We deck with fragrant flowers;
Yours has the suffering been,
  The memory shall be ours.

1 comment:

  1. Thank you . I love your web sit . May God Bless all that died for us. Bless you and your family


Let's talk!

Thank you for reading! If you like this post, I would appreciate any comments and shares. You can see a bit more about me and my family here, and connect with me on facebook and twitter! Please do! Connecting is the WHOLE POINT of blogging! I'd love to hear from you.