Memorial Day is About Remembering…

I come from a family that will always remember a great loss.  My uncle Ted Morton Groeneveld was killed in action in Korea in 1951 and was MIA for seventeen months before they located his body in a shallow grave on a Korean beach.  He was an infantryman in the army and had been killed rushing from a troop carrier onto the beach in the heat of battle.  He was 20 years old when he died.

I was not born until a few years after his death but my childhood was touched by his memory and I especially remember the on going grief of my grandmother.  My younger brother Ted Morton George is named in honor of my uncle.  Because of my family’s loss and the losses of so many other families I think Memorial Day is a holiday we should all remember.

The history of Memorial Day goes back to the years following the civil war when our nation was desperately trying to mend after a horrific war that had taken a great toll in terms of American lives.

The gives the following account of the history of Memorial Day.

Memorial Day was originally known as Decoration Day because it was a time set aside to honor the nation’s Civil War dead by decorating their graves. It was first widely observed on May 30, 1868, to commemorate the sacrifices of Civil War soldiers, by proclamation of General John A. Logan of the Grand Army of the Republic, an organization of former sailors and soldiers. On May 5, 1868, Logan declared in General Order No. 11 that:

The 30th of May, 1868, is designated for the purpose of strewing with flowers, or otherwise decorating the graves of comrades who died in defense of their country during the late rebellion, and whose bodies now lie in almost every city, village, and hamlet churchyard in the land. In this observance no form of ceremony is prescribed, but posts and comrades will in their own way arrange such fitting services and testimonials of respect as circumstances may permit.

During the first celebration of Decoration Day, General James Garfield made a speech at Arlington National Cemetery, after which 5,000 participants helped to decorate the graves of the more than 20,000 Union and Confederate soldiers buried in the cemetery.

This 1868 celebration was inspired by local observances of the day in several towns throughout America that had taken place in the three years since the Civil War. In fact, several Northern and Southern cities claim to be the birthplace of Memorial Day, including Columbus, Miss.; Macon, Ga.; Richmond, Va.; Boalsburg, Pa.; and Carbondale, Ill.

In 1966, the federal government, under the direction of President Lyndon Johnson, declared Waterloo, N.Y., the official birthplace of Memorial Day. They chose Waterloo—which had first celebrated the day on May 5, 1866—because the town had made Memorial Day an annual, community-wide event during which businesses closed and residents decorated the graves of soldiers with flowers and flags.

By the late 1800s, many communities across the country had begun to celebrate Memorial Day and, after World War I, observances also began to honor those who had died in all of America’s wars. In 1971, Congress declared Memorial Day a national holiday to be celebrated the last Monday in May.

Today, Memorial Day is celebrated at Arlington National Cemetery with a ceremony in which a small American flag is placed on each grave. Also, it is customary for the president or vice-president to give a speech honoring the contributions of the dead and lay a wreath at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. About 5,000 people attend the ceremony annually.”

This year Congress has called for a moment of relection at 3:00 P.M. to show unity and a return to the sacred nature of this holiday.  CNN reported,

“The time 3 p.m. was chosen because it is the time when most Americans are enjoying their freedoms on the national holiday,” according to the White House Commission on Remembrance. Congress established the National Moment of Remembrance.

“The Moment does not replace traditional Memorial Day events; rather it is an act of national unity in which all Americans, alone or with family and friends, honor those who died for our freedom,” the Commission on Remembrance said on its Web site.

“It will help to reclaim Memorial Day as the sacred and noble holiday it was meant to be. In this shared remembrance, we connect as Americans.”

Has your family suffered a loss of a loved one in the service of our country?  Have you been touched by the death of a brave member of our armed services?  I would like to know of your loss and give you a chance to remember.  Please feel free to leave a response or comment to this post.  In tribute to all those who have served or are serving I have included the following video tribute.

1 Comment

Filed under Current Events and Editorials

One response to “Memorial Day is About Remembering…

  1. Mitzi Roberts

    I have not suffered, only benefited. Thank you to all the Ted Morton’s out there…….and especially to those left behind. Two of my brothers and a close Uncle have all served in the Air Force, I thank them as well. Lindsey’s soccer coach served and is continuing to suffer……….I pray for him and his family too.

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