How easy it is at times for a nation to forget the significance of Memorial Day amidst the banner of a long weekend and start of summer. And yet, it is for the very losses of these fallen heroes, the men and women of the U.S. military, that we can fan the flames of our barbecues, host backyard parties, and relax in lazy wonderment by the sides of our pools.
"Sometimes she alone ensures our sacrifices, so others may live free, will never be forgotten." — Richard Becker for American War Mothers
There is a band that hails from the United Kingdom that recently wrote a song that captures the awe (and regret) that a soldier who runs away from a battle might feel about his fallen comrades. The song is The Cowardly Soldier's Lament, from a West country folk band Rocketeer. Enjoy and then remember.
If nothing else, at 3 p.m. today, please pause for a few minutes during the National Moment of Remembrance. Or perhaps, if you can find the time, listen to Taps, which was reworked as we know it today after the Seven Days battles at Harrison's Landing (near Richmond). It revised an order ceremony, which called for the signal to extinguish lights.
But again, such suggestions are only the least that one can do. There are dozens of organizations that rely on everyday citizens for funding and support. Just a few of them include America's Fallen Heroes Fund, American Fallen Soldiers Project, American Gold Star Mothers, Fallen Heroes Project, and Flowers For Heroes. Please take a minute to visit them as well as consider the meaning behind the original day.
Memorial Day was first enacted as Decoration Day by formerly enslaved African-Americans to honor Union soldiers of the American Civil War. Later, Southern states held their own Memorial Days, helping rebind the common cause of this country. And in 1866 in Mississippi, Decoration Day commemorated both the Union and Confederate casualties buried in its cemeteries.
After World War I, it was expanded to honor Americans who have died in all wars and military conflicts. And it wasn't until the National Holiday Act of 1971 that it became attached to a three-day weekend. Over the years, I've lent other posts to Memorial Day, including some words of President Abraham Lincoln, a speech written for the American War Mothers, and several historic photos when there was nothing left to say. Good night and good luck.