If you’re waking up this morning excited that you get the day off to roast some hotdogs with friends, then let’s pause a moment to remember those that made the ultimate sacrifice to make sure you could enjoy life so grand.
I’m going to drop a bit of history on you here, then I am going to leave you with 5 things you can do today to remember our fallen troops.
We lost over 650,000 proud Americans who were both fighting for what they thought was right during the bloodiest war our country has ever endured. When the war finally came to a close in 1865 towns all across these now United States honored their fallen by placing flowers on the graves of soldiers and sailors in the spring. That very next year in Waterloo, NY, the city decided to close all the stores in the town on May 5, 1866, so that everyone could help decorate these graves.
That following year, Ret. Gen. John A. Logan (for those of you that have visited DC may know him from his statue at Logan Circle) was the head of the Grand Army of the Republic which was like the Veterans of Foreign Wars fraternal organization that we know today, but for Union soldiers. He unified “Decoration Day” to a single day and established it as May 30th. He selected that day because it marked an unusual occurrence that no battle had been fought on that day during the Civil War. Although it is unproven, many believe that his secondary reason for pushing back the date was to allow spring flowers to reach full bloom in the northern states so that they would be plentiful to cover all the graves of fallen soldiers.
He, along with 5,000 widows, a large crowd of volunteers and 2 future presidents, decorated the graves of over 20,000 of America’s fallen, both North and South, on May 30, 1868. Fun fact, but Logan is one of only 33 people to have Lain in State at the rotunda of the Capitol Building.
Because of Logan’s northern allegiance, many southern states elected to celebrate their own Decoration Day honoring their southern troops. It wasn’t until the First Great War that the north and south together lost over 130,000 brothers and sisters in a foreign conflict. After that time Decoration Day, now commonly referred to as Memorial Day, began to include a reverence for all fallen troops and not just those from the Civil War.
It took 3 more wars before the United States made Memorial Day as we know it, a National Holiday, and some might argue reduced its reverence by shifting it to the last Monday of May so that Federal Employees could have a three day holiday. This new alignment with the first long weekend of the summer allowed for it’s now synonymous with bar-b-queing, boating, and the Indy-500.
5 THINGS THAT YOU CAN DO TODAY TO HONOR THEM
- Fly a flag – If you have a flagpole, current law reflects that the flag is flown at half-mast until noon to honor the fallen, then raised to topmast in honor of a grateful Nation.
- Pause for a moment – A law still on the books declares 3 pm in your local time to be a moment of silence to memorialize those that made the ultimate sacrifice. Maybe shut off the music at the cookout you are at for a brief pause. Even if you find yourself mowing the lawn at that time, shut it down for a moment and listen to the silence. That is the sound of America and the ultimate sacrifice.
- Decorate a cemetery – This is really how it all started with Decoration Day. Spare a few moments to give your time to honor their sacrifice. I assure you the sacrifice you make will be less than theirs.
- Go to Arlington – Okay this one takes some planning, but if you have never been – You Need To! I can’t go there and not tear up. It will get you. The President (Respect the Office here people no matter how you feel about the man) traditionally lays a wreath on the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier at 3 pm.
- Talk about it – for a moment in a conversation talk with your kids, grandkids, or whoever is tending the grille about the reverence of the day. You don’t need to come off all high and mighty on it, but just gently bringing it to the forefront will provide a little bit of reverence the day demands.
If nothing else, just taking the time to read this is a small dedication to keeping the memory of our soldiers, sailors, and airmen alive. Sharing the information will help ensure our next generation has the same reverence as we do. So whether it’s talking about it or forwarding this email on, take a step today to share the real reason of Memorial Day with others.
One more thing I’d like you to do…
If you’re doing something today to show your reverence, please take a moment and post it to our internal Facebook Group. Whether it’s a picture of a parade, a flag, or a tombstone of someone you lost to service, let all share in our moment of reflection together.