Monday, May 25, 2009

Happy Memorial Day 2009

We in America are Celebrating Memorial Day today.

My husband and I got to talking the other day about how Memorial Day the holiday came about. It is funny how we grow up celebrating these holidays and traditions and over time the true meaning is lost.
Bryan mentioned something about it being celebrated after World War II and had to do with Poppys. I was surprised that he would know more about this holiday than I do, since he grew up in Canada and I in the United States. We then started talking about Veterans Day and were wondering if the holidays were pretty much the same. I mentioned that I thought Memorial Day was for those who had died (mostly military but not always) and Veterans Day was for those men and women who have served in the Military who were still alive.
I decided to do a little research and share with you all, what I learned about both of these holidays. I got my information off of Wikipedia.

1. Memorial Day is a United States federal holiday observed on the last Monday of May (May 25 in 2009). Formerly known as Decoration Day, it commemorates U.S. men and women who died while in the military service. First enacted to honor Union soldiers of the American Civil War (it is celebrated near the day of reunification after the civil war), it was expanded after World War I to include American casualties of any war or military action.
2. Many people observe this holiday by visiting cemeteries and memorials. Many Americans also use Memorial Day to honor other people who have died.
3. Members of the Veterans of Foreign Wars take donations[2] for poppies in the days leading up to Memorial Day; the poppy's significance to Memorial Day is the result of the John McCrae poem "In Flanders Fields."
4. Some Americans view Memorial Day as the unofficial beginning of summer and Labor Day as the unofficial end of the season.
5. In addition to national observances, many individual communities hold memorial observance for fallen soldiers who were from that town by having a ceremony in a church or town memorial park. It is common for fire and police departments to remember and honor members lost in the line of duty. Towns often hold a Memorial Day parade in honor of such residents. Participation in such a parade is by community organizations such as members of the local emergency services and their vehicles, Rotary Clubs, Boy Scouts of America, Girl Scouts of the USA, and bands from the local high school or church groups.
6. According to Professor David Blight of the Yale University History Department, the first memorial day was observed on May 1, 1865 by liberated slaves at the Washington Race Course (today the location of Hampton Park) in Charleston, South Carolina. The site had been used as a temporary Confederate prison camp as well as a mass grave for Union soldiers who died in captivity. The freed slaves disinterred the dead Union soldiers from the mass grave to be inhumed properly reposed with individual graves, built a fence around the graveyard with an entry arch, declaring it a Union graveyard. On May 30, 1868, the freed slaves returned to the graveyard with flowers they had picked from the countryside and decorated the individual gravesites, thereby creating the first Decoration Day. Thousands of freed blacks and Union soldiers paraded from the area, followed by much patriotic singing and a picnic.

7. The official birthplace of Memorial Day is Waterloo, New York. The village was credited with being the place of origin because it observed the day on May 5, 1866, and each year thereafter.
1. Veterans Day is an annual American holiday honoring military veterans. Both a federal holiday and a state holiday in all states, it is usually observed on November 11.
2. U.S. President Woodrow Wilson first proclaimed an Armistice Day for November 12, 1919. The United States Congress passed a concurrent resolution seven years later on June 4, 1926, requesting the President issue another proclamation to observe November 11 with appropriate ceremonies. An Act (52 Stat. 351; 5 U. S. Code, Sec. 87a) approved May 13, 1938, made the 11th of November in each year a legal holiday; "a day to be dedicated to the cause of world peace and to be thereafter celebrated and known as 'Armistice Day'."
3. In 1953, an Emporia, Kansas shoe store owner named Al King had the idea to expand Armistice Day to celebrate all veterans, not just those who served in World War I. King had been actively involved with the American War Dads during World War II. He began a campaign to turn Armistice Day into "All" Veterans Day. The Emporia Chamber of Commerce took up the cause after determining that 90% of Emporia merchants as well as the Board of Education supported closing their doors on November 11, 1953, to honor veterans. With the help of then-U.S. Rep. Ed Rees, also from Emporia, a bill for the holiday was pushed through Congress. President Dwight Eisenhower signed it into law on May 26, 1954.
4. Congress amended this act on November 8, 1954, replacing "Armistice" with Veterans, and it has been known as Veterans Day since.

5. Although originally scheduled for celebration on November 11 of every year, starting in 1971 in accordance with the Uniform Monday Holiday Act, Veterans Day was moved to the fourth Monday of October. In 1978 it was moved back to its original celebration on November 11
So there is the lesson. I thought it was very interesting the reason for both of these holidays and to tell you the truth I still am a bit confused as to why we celebrate both of these holidays. But I think I will try and make them more educational for my children in the future. I don't want them to grow up just thinking they are days we get off from school or work. Time to BBQ and play. Yes it is good to have fun on these holidays and be greatful for them, but the true meaning needs to be in there somewhere too. We need to remember those people in our country who help to protect our freedom. You keep us safe. Remember their sacrafice for us.

Now with no further delay...Here is a picture of Bug in his Wagon for the Memorial Day Pancake Breakfast and Parade that the Manito Ward is putting on this year. Bug had fun helping me decorate his wagon.

Oh, and if you ask Bug what today is, his reply will be matter a factly, "It's America Day!"

I wonder what he will be calling 4th of July. Stay tuned.
Hope everyone has had a nice holiday weekend, and enjoyed time with family, friends, and the great weather we have been having. Happy Memorial Day!

1 jittering comments:

Stephani said...

Wow, that is really interesting, especially the definition about the liberated slaves taking the time to individually bury the Union soldiers. Thanks for the lesson, that really is true that we often lose sight of what each holiday is really about. Gets me thinking I really don't know what a few others are for either, I'll have to look them up.

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