The last Monday of May, Memorial Day, is an important holiday — a day for remembering and honoring those who have died while serving the United States.
Memorial Day, designated as Decoration Day after the Civil War, was originally on May 5. It was established as a day for decorating the graves of the fallen with flowers and flags.
After World War I, the holiday evolved to commemorate American personnel who died in all wars. May 30 was chosen as Memorial Day, but in 1968, Congress passed the Uniform Memorial Day Act making the last Monday in May as the day of celebration.
Red poppies are sold by veterans associations. They are a symbol from a poem written about the bright red flowers which grew on the ravaged landscape of Flanders fields, the location of a major battle theater during World War I. “In Flanders fields, the poppies blow - between the crosses row by row.” Lieutenant Colonel, John McCrea. Buy a poppy. Wear it proudly.
Memorial Day means many things to many people. It is a day to remember, to honor and to celebrate. It is also the unofficial first day of summer.
If you are lucky enough to attend a parade, it is a living photo of what and who we are — America — all of us! The bands, the flags, the floats, the antique cars, the firetrucks, the military vehicles are all wonderful and fun to hear and see, but the people in the parade are the reason we are celebrating and are a symbol of remembrance for each of us — the servicemen and women from the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marine Corps, Coast Guard along with the Firemen, Police, EMTs, Girl Scouts and Boy Scouts, the town dignitaries, the Garden Clubs, the children riding bikes, the girls’ and boys’ softball and baseball teams and, of course, the bands. The people in the parade and those watching are the essence of the celebration.
The men, women, boys and girls are all part of a group who serve together for a common goal — to protect our country, to support our communities, to be part of a team that cares for one another, to be part of something bigger and more important than ourselves as individuals.
All the marchers have given their talent, their efforts and their enthusiasm for the group they are part of and for the country as a whole.
As the parade route ends, the deafening roar of a fly-over of jets paints impressive white streaks of clouds on the bright blue skies. The orator speaks with a reverence for those resting in hallowed grounds everywhere. Take a personal moment to reflect on the sacrifices of those who have given their lives for our country and how each of us can be a better person for others.
Beyond the parade is a day of celebrating family, friends and “here comes summer!” Put a red, white and blue bandana on your dog; wave a flag; eat hot dogs, hamburgers and ice cream; play Jimmy Buffet songs; and, most importantly, thank someone who has or is serving in the military for their service. It will make them feel good and you will too.
Wishing you a Happy Memorial Day. Here comes summer on the Shoreline! See you at the town beach!
Thank you for your service!