Howard Lake-Waverly Herald, May 28, 2001

Why observe Memorial Day?

By Denny Frey, Adjutant
Howard Lake American Legion

What is Memorial Day? When did it start?

It was originally called Decoration Day, and started May 30, 1868.

The force behind Decoration Day was John A. Logan, Commander of the Grand Army of the Republic, a group of Union Soldiers.

Its purpose was to remember the casualties of the Civil War.

Today, Memorial Day is observed on the last Monday in May, and has been taken over by the American Legion since World War I. To some people, in fact, to most people, Memorial Day is the start of summer, the first long weekend, to go to the lake or go camping.

To some people, it's a time to stop and reflect - to remember those who died to serve.

It's a time to honor those who gave their lives to preserve freedom, soldiers who were killed in battles that took place around the world at different times in history - such as the War of 1812, Civil War, Spanish American War, World War I & II, Korea, Vietnam, Desert Storm, and other conflicts through time.

Veterans returned from wars with memories - some good, some bad, some so bad they can't or don't want to talk about them.

These veterans continue to work in peacetime, to preserve our freedoms, through veteran organizations, such as the VFW, and the American Legion.

Who are these Veterans? What is a veteran?

Poem courtesy of the Wright County Veterans Service Office.

A Veteran is a person who looks the world in the eye, and who feels an extra heartbeat when the flag goes by.

A veteran is a person who steps a little faster when they hear a military band.

A veteran comes from all assorted races, sizes and shapes.

A veteran is big, small, short and tall.

A veteran is the "Doughboy" of World War I, the "G.I." of World War II, Korea and Vietnam.

A veteran is a sailor, soldier, flyer and Marine.

A veteran is artillery, infantry, medic, chemical engineer, armored, ordnance and corpsman.

A veteran is republican, democrat, independent.

A veteran is a plumber, doctor, salesman, mechanic, farmer, banker, factory worker.

A veteran is Catholic, Protestant, Jew.

A veteran is rich, poor and in between.

A veteran is a person who loves peace, because they know the cost of war.

A veteran is a good citizen, and a person who knows the price of freedom.

A veteran knows that eternal vigilance and preparedness are necessary if freedom is to be preserved.

A veteran likes the majesty of American mountains, the tranquility of America's valleys and the bustle of America's cities.

A veteran is proud of their American heritage, alert to their American present and confident of their American future.

In the very rear of their secret heart, there is always a tingle of sorrow, a souvenir of sadness for lost and departed comrades.

A Veteran is a first -class fighting person, a citizen soldier, and a peace time leader.

Proud of 'Old Glory'

Veterans are proud, especially of the flag, which they like to remind people to honor.

For all the signs and symbols since the world began, there is none other so full of meaning as the flag of this country.

That piece of red, white, and blue bunting means 500 years of struggle upward. It is a full grown flower of ages of fighting for liberty. It is a plant of human hope in bloom..

The flag stands for humanity, for equal opportunity to all the sons of men. Of course the nation hasn't arrived at that goal, as there are many injustices among us, many senseless and cruel customs of the past, but the only hope of righting the wrongs of men lies in the feeling produced in our hearts by the sights of the flag.

The United States flag is the third oldest of all standards in the World. It was authorized on June 14, 1777.

June 14 is still observed as flag day. What does the flag and the colors of it, stand for?

Red is for valor, zeal, and fervency.

White is for hope, purity, cleanliness of life and rectitude of conduct.

Blue is the color of heaven, for reverence to God, loyalty, sincerity, justice, and truth.

The stars symbolize dominion and sovereignty as well as lofty aspirations. The cancellation of the stars, one for each state symbolizes their sovereignty.

Other flags mean a glorious past, this flag stands for a glorious future. It is not so much the flag our fathers as it is the flag of children and children's, children yet unborn. It is the flag of tomorrow. It is the signal of the good times coming.

It is not the flag of the king, but the flag of yourself and of your neighbors.

Don't be ashamed when your throat chokes and the tears come to your eyes as you see it flying. You will never have a worthier emotion.

Tribute to the flag is offered to the country in appeal to all men and women of all races, colors and tongues, that they might come to understand that our flag is the symbol of liberty, and learn to love it.

Stand up, remove your cap

Always remember to respect the flag. When a parade is going by, and the Honor Guard is marching with the flag, stand up and take off your cap.

Make every day Memorial Day, a day to remember.

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