Memorial Day, or Decoration Day as it was originally named, is a wonderful long weekend that we think of as kicking off the summer picnic and beach season. It is all that, and so much more.
When the Civil War ended in 1865, the springtime ritual of decorating the graves of fallen soldiers had begun. Because of the numbers lost in that war, the first national cemeteries were founded, where the land was covered with markers of lives lost.
Since the declaration in 1868 that there would be an official day of remembrance—the Memorial Day that we celebrate today—many traditions have evolved. We honor all of those who have been lost in service to their country by decorating gravesites, holding parades, and the official moment of reflection at 3:00PM.
Our family is honored to say that we have had generations past who have served and a few currently serving in active duty as well. I am continually reminding myself that this is, in fact, happening. While we are going on about our business and day-to-day lives, there are countless men and women actively fighting, coordinating rescues, operating disaster relief missions, and training for what may come in the future. There is a world of dedication and service that most of us will only get a glimpse of in our lifetime.
On these days of remembrance, I’m extremely thankful for my mom who went to heaven a couple of years ago. No, she did not serve in the military or public service. What she did was raise all of her children to respect and honor those that serve the sacrifices they make. Mom would drag us to the cemeteries on Memorial Day with flags for those she knew wouldn’t get one because they may not have belonged to the VFW. She always had such compassion for the veterans that came home with injuries or conditions like PTSD, which wasn’t a recognized diagnosis years ago. We wrote letters to servicemen when we were kids, she sent the sports pages to soldiers, and shipped countless boxes of cookies and brownies overseas. Her contribution and example formed my own patriotism and view of our military.
I spent this Memorial Day weekend planting flowers, going to the beach, and maybe enjoying a hot dog or two. We hung out with family and enjoyed the quiet pace of the Monday holiday, and I’m sure I will enjoy the short week that follows. (I always do.)
The best part of the weekend was definitely taking the flags to the soldiers' graves who would not otherwise receive one. In that, we honor the ones who have served, and we honor my mom at the same time.
What did you do this Memorial Day weekend? How did you honor those who have served and are currently serving our country? Does your family have any traditions?
“Respect to those you owe respect and honor where honor is due.” Romans 13:7
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