Decoration Day

By Rosie Moore

At the time of World War 11, I was nine or ten years old. As I walked in my neighborhood I noticed one or two houses with placards in the windows containing the American flag under which were five stars. When I asked my mother what they meant she explained that it meant five sons had given their lives for their county. Her explanation had little impact on me then at that young age.

It wasn’t until many years later when I lost a son due to an automobile accident that I truly realized what those placards really signified. Words fail to capture the experience of the heartbreak and horror of losing a child, but to lose five sons in a war was an incomprehensible idea to me.

The original Decoration Day was in   1868 when the south started to decorate the graves of comrades in defense of their country during the Civil War. They strewed flowers over the graves and today colorful blooms basking on soldier’s graves are a token of our love and respect for those who served our country. In 1971 the first state in the North to celebrate the day was New York. The south refused to acknowledge the day until after world War 2 when the holiday changed from honoring  just those who died in the Civil War to honoring those Americans who died fighting in any war.

The date for this ceremony was debated for a number of years to commemorate this holiday such as, June 3, in Richmond, Virginia, also in Savannah, Georgia, in 1862  and a dedication was proclaimed in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, in 1864. President Johnsons finally gave the honor to Waterloo, New York as the holder of the title and named  the last Monday in May Memorial Day.

Changing the date merely to create three-day weekends has undermined the very meaning of the day. No doubt this has contributed a lot to the general public’s nonchalant observance of Memorial Day. Whatever the date, let us remember the thousands of men and women who “gave their all” for this country.

Thought for the day: “Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.”  John 15:13

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