HJ-ED-DHJHerald Journal Columns
May 21, 2007, Herald Journal

Commemorate Memorial Day


Throughout history, the United States has been involved in wars around the world. In total, the US has been a part of more than 50 wars or conflicts, which have involved the sacrifice of American servicemen and women.

It is more than befitting that we have a special day, Memorial Day, when we commemorate the lives of those service personnel who gave up their lives in the name of freedom for us all.

After the Civil War, some soldiers returned home to their families and homes, and others, not so fortunate, died during their duty to serve America.

Henry Welles of Waterloo, NY, suggested that all the shops in town close for one day to honor the fallen soldiers. On the morning of May 5, the townspeople placed flowers, wreaths, and crosses on the graves of these soldiers.

Retired Major General Jonathon A. Logan also planned another ceremony for surviving war veterans. He led the veterans through town to the cemetery to decorate and place flags on the graves of their departed comrades. It was called Decoration Day.

In Logan’s proclamation of Memorial Day, he declared:

“The 30th of May, 1868, is designated for the purpose of strewing with flowers, or otherwise decorating the graves of comrades who died in defense of their country and during the late rebellion, and whose bodies now lie in almost every city, village and hamlet churchyard in the land. In this observance no form of ceremony is prescribed, but posts and comrades will in their own way arrange such fitting services and testimonials of respect as circumstances may permit.”

In 1868, these two ceremonies were united. The northern states commemorated the day May 30, and the southern states commemorated their soldiers who died on different days.

In 1882, the name Decoration Day was changed to Memorial Day and soldiers who had died in previous wars were also honored. President Richard Nixon declared Memorial Day a federal holiday in 1971, the last Monday of May.

Cities all around the world hold their own ceremonies to pay respect to those soldiers who lost their lives in service to their country. It has also become a day to honor all the brave men and women soldiers who served their country.

Memorial Day is also a day for personal remembrance. Families and individuals pay honor to their deceased loved ones.

Each year, my family travels to our local cemetery for the Memorial Day service. Our son marches with his fellow Boy Scouts through town to the cemetery to pay tribute to servicemen and women.

Our children wave their miniature flags in honor of all soldiers who have served our country and who continue to serve our country.

In tradition, each year we also travel to various cemeteries to honor and pay respect to our loved ones who have passed away. We place flowers on each grave site and share memories of our deceased loved ones with our children.

It is important that Memorial Day not just be the start of summer vacation for our children, but that it truly be a day of honoring and commemorating soldiers and loved ones who have died.

Talk with your children about how Memorial Day got started and what the day is about. Attend a community Memorial Day service. Wave a flag. Allow your children to be part of a Memorial Day community parade if they are old enough. Sing a patriotic song.

Next week, my article will talk more about how to help your child honor Memorial Day so the day does not lose its honorable intention for our children.

Sources: http://homeschooling.about.com; www.educationworld.com; http:musiced.about.com; www.canteach.ca.