Wednesday Feature: Memorial Day

Aside from the holiday and the weekend immediately prior marking the start of summer, Memorial Day is a significant holiday for many. Officially, it is a national holiday set aside to remember and mourn the deaths of service members, killed in the line of duty (while serving in the U.S. Armed Services). It is unlike Armed Forces Day and Veteran’s Day which exist to honor and recognize, all who currently serve or have served, in the Armed Services (alive or deceased).

Originally, Memorial Day was known as Decoration Day. The first holiday version was created by John Logan, Commander of the Army of the Republic to honor fallen Union Civil War soldiers. The day spread across the states as a day of honoring fallen soldiers via grave remembrance decorations. By 1890, every Union state celebrated the holiday. With the onset of World Wars (I and II) the day’s recognition expanded to all fallen soldiers, regardless of the war.

In 1971, Congress officially designated “Decoration Day” as Memorial Day and marked the national holiday to occur on the last Monday of every May. It is a day which includes many celebrations ranging from religious services at Veteran’s cemeteries to parades and festivals, etc.

This upcoming Monday is Memorial Day in the United States. I am grateful to be a resident and citizen and forever in debt to the brave men and women who fought for the freedoms I enjoy – daily. I will certainly pause and reflect on Monday. Until then, Happy Hump Day. Below is a favorite Memorial Day poem from Henry Wadsworth Longfellow – “Decoration Day”.

Sleep, comrades, sleep and rest
On this Field of the Grounded Arms,
Where foes no more molest,
Nor sentry’s shot alarms!

Ye have slept on the ground before,
And started to your feet
At the cannon’s sudden roar,
Or the drum’s redoubling beat.

But in this camp of Death
No sound your slumber breaks;
Here is no fevered breath,
No wound that bleeds and aches.

All is repose and peace,
Untrampled lies the sod;
The shouts of battle cease,
It is the Truce of God!

Rest, comrades, rest and sleep!
The thoughts of men shall be
As sentinels to keep
Your rest from danger free.

Your silent tents of green
We deck with fragrant flowers;
Yours has the suffering been,
The memory shall be ours.


Leave a Comment