Friday, May 25, 2012

I have always loved Memorial Day Weekend

by Ann S. Mindicino

Walking past a grave with a "happy birthday" balloon on it, soldiers with the 3rd U.S. Infantry Regiment, or "Old Guard," check Section 60 to make sure each grave has a flag in honor of Memorial Day, during the annual "Flags-In" at Arlington National Cemetery in Arlington, Va., on Thursday, May 24, 2012. Photo: Jacquelyn Martin, Associated Press / AP
I have always loved Memorial Day Weekend. It represented the beginning of summer.  The long weekend was always lucky for me. I met my first boyfriend on Memorial Day Weekend. I moved in with my now husband of 33 years on Memorial Day Weekend.
I never thought much about the meaning of this holiday. I started looking for activities for the upcoming weekend and I learned how much more significant this holiday is beyond the barbeques, fireworks and opening of beaches.
I never knew it was first started as Decoration Day after the civil war and was originally designated as a tribute to Civil War veterans who lost their lives. They were honored by decorating their graves, hence the original name, Decoration Day. Many years later the holiday was deemed to include a tribute to those who died in service to our country in all wars and even beyond to a time to remember all significant people who have passed and thus became known as Memorial Day.
Did you know that in Arlington Cemetery current soldiers place a flag on every grave on the Friday before the official holiday celebrated as a federal holiday the last Monday in May? That day may have been chosen because by then flowers in bloom could decorate the graves of those who died for our country. There are tributes and festivities similar to the one in DC all over the country. It’s nice to know the tradition and memories of the “real” holiday are still celebrated and often in the traditional way going back to the Civil War days.

A flag is seen at the temporary marker for a mass grave in Section 60, an area largely used for those who died while serving in the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. Photo: BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI, AFP/Getty Images / 2012 Brendan Smialowski

So, take a moment. Hang a flag. Write a soldier serving overseas now. Remember what it means to you to be an American and rejoice in it. Remember freedom isn’t free. Throughout history we have paid dire prices for it.
I worry that in this post 9/11 world our freedom has been threatened and therefore, compromised. We need to be the land of the free and the home of the brave. I am disillusioned but not defeated. We baby boomers changed the world. However it did not become what we envisioned in our generation and we may have little hope for the future. It’s a process and a destination and we’re still just beginning. This is a good holiday to remember why our ancestors came here and how we can become the country we grew up knowing was the best place to live. I want to know this again in my lifetime.
Thank you to all the brave men and women who gave their lives through centuries to preserve our country so that we can hold our heads high and always be proud to say we are Americans and be proud and privileged to call this great country our own.
Then go to the beach, the parades, see the fireworks and celebrate the season but take a moment and tell your children and grandchildren why this holiday is so significant.
I found this on Pinterest from a blog: There’s lots of ways to put the red, white and blue in your holiday festivities. This is just one of many. Enjoy the weekend and welcome to summer!

p.s.  Thank you Ann for this beautiful post!

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