Festivals, ballgames, parties and picnics are swell… but let’s never forget what Memorial Day is really all about.
Memorial Day, originally called Decoration Day, is a day of remembrance for those who have died in our nation's service. There are many stories as to its actual beginnings, with over two-dozen cities and towns laying claim to being the birthplace of Memorial Day.
Memorial Day was officially proclaimed on May 5, 1868 by General John Logan, national commander of the Grand Army of the Republic, in his General Order No. 11, and was first observed on May 30, 1868, when flowers were placed on the graves of Union and Confederate soldiers at Arlington National Cemetery. The first state to officially recognize the holiday was New York in 1873. By 1890 it was recognized by all of the northern states. The South refused to acknowledge the day, honoring their dead on separate days until after World War I (when the holiday changed from honoring just those who died fighting in the Civil War to honoring Americans who died fighting in any war). It is now celebrated in almost every State on the last Monday in May (passed by Congress with the National Holiday Act of 1971 (P.L. 90 - 363) to ensure a three day weekend for Federal holidays), though several southern states have an additional separate day for honoring the Confederate war dead.
To help re-educate and remind Americans of the true meaning of Memorial Day, the "National Moment of Remembrance" resolution was passed on Dec 2000 which asks that at 3 p.m. local time, for all Americans "To voluntarily and informally observe in their own way a Moment of remembrance and respect, pausing from whatever they are doing for a moment of silence or listening to 'Taps."
The Moment of Remembrance is a step in the right direction to returning the meaning back to the day. What is needed is a full return to the original day of observance. Set aside one day out of the year for the nation to get together to remember, reflect and honor those who have given their all in service to their country.
It is always an honor for me to stand on any field to wait for the Color Guard to march up carrying Old Glory and to post the colors before singing the Star-Spangled Banner. But when it comes to honoring our fallen heroes from the military or the ranks of the first responders, I am filled with gratitude for their service as well as the God-given gift of my restored voice to be able to honor them in songs
Memorial Day will not be forgotten, nor will those who have given the ultimate sacrifice… as long as we remember that freedom is not free… and the price that has been paid is steep.
God bless the men and women who have answered the call and have responded with bravery and courage. To those who have gone… but never returned… we say thank you, brave soldier.
As we enjoy the beach, the picnic, the ballgame, the festivals or the parade… we can never forget the true heroes of the Army, Navy, Coast Guard, Marines, and Air Force.
We stand tall and salute you on this Memorial Day.