5.26.2008

Recognizing and Understanding Memorial Day

Memorial Day is a day of remembrance for all U.S. soldiers who have died in service to their country. While it is often hailed as the unofficial start of summer, the holiday was not instituted for the convenience of a 3-day weekend at the start of a season. It was established to honor those who gave their lives for their country.

While there are conflicting historical reports as to where and when the practice of setting aside a day to honor U.S. war casualties began, General John Logan officially declared May 30 to be Memorial Day in 1866. It seems as though a similar observance was followed at various times and places throughout the U.S. following the civil war, but in 1966 President Lyndon Johnson declared Waterloo, NY to be the birthplace of Memorial Day. The holiday officially falls on May 30, but is observed annually on the last Monday in May. The day was originally referred to as Decoration Day, but did not become more commonly known as Memorial Day until after World War II.

Regardless of political affiliation or feelings about military action, this day is to remember the individuals who have died in support of our country's defenses. I think it's very important to ensure that younger generations appreciate this day for the purpose for which is was intended. Even if just taking kids to a Memorial Day parade and explaining the basic premise of the day, a little education on the topic will keep the spirit of the holiday intact. I'm not advocating treating the day as a somber occasion with kids, simply making them aware.

If you would like more information on Memorial Day, check out USMemorialDay.org or Wikipedia.

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