Friday, May 23, 2008

Memorial Day


I'll be working this Memorial Day holiday. It's unfortunate because I was looking forward to spending time with family members, but it's luck of the draw when working in retail. I had also requested Sunday and the following Saturday so I can attend graduations for my niece and nephew. With that, I have to put in my hours Monday through Friday this week.

So, while I'm working, several of you will be dragging out your grills, putting brewskies on ice, setting up the Hillbilly Golf set and hammocks. That's all fine. It's what I would have been doing, too. Memorial Day traditionally marks the open of the summer season. It's a time for families to gather together and enjoy an additional day off from work and school. But what does this holiday represent officially? Most people know, but lose sight of its meaning while in pursuit of partying.

Just in case a reminder is required, I went to the most obvious source of all to get the background of Memorial Day: The United States Department of Veteran Affairs website. Here's what they describe ~
Official Birthplace Declared In 1966, Congress and President Lyndon Johnson declared Waterloo, N.Y., the “birthplace” of Memorial Day. There, a ceremony on May 5, 1866, honored local veterans who had fought in the Civil War. Businesses closed and residents flew flags at half-staff. Supporters of Waterloo’s claim say earlier observances in other places were either informal, not community-wide or one-time events.

By the end of the 19th century, Memorial Day ceremonies were being held on May 30 throughout the nation. State legislatures passed proclamations designating the day, and the Army and Navy adopted regulations for proper observance at their facilities.

It was not until after World War I, however, that the day was expanded to honor those who have died in all American wars. In 1971, Memorial Day was declared a national holiday by an act of Congress, though it is still often called Decoration Day. It was then also placed on the last Monday in May, as were some other federal holidays.

additionally:

To ensure the sacrifices of America ’s fallen heroes are never forgotten, in December 2000, the U.S. Congress passed and the president signed into law “The National Moment of Remembrance Act,” P.L. 106-579, creating the White House Commission on the National Moment of Remembrance. The commission’s charter is to “encourage the people of the United States to give something back to their country, which provides them so much freedom and opportunity” by encouraging and coordinating commemorations in the United States of Memorial Day and the National Moment of Remembrance.

The National Moment of Remembrance encourages all Americans to pause wherever they are at 3 p.m. local time on Memorial Day for a minute of silence to remember and honor those who have died in service to the nation. As Moment of Remembrance founder Carmella LaSpada states: “It’s a way we can all help put the memorial back in Memorial Day.”


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