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Monday, May 31, 2010

Memorial Day

It is foolish and wrong to mourn the men who died. Rather we should thank God that such men lived. — General George S. Patton ...

Memorial Day, once known as "Decoration Day" commemorates U.S. soliders who died while in military service. It was first enacted to honor Union Soliders of the American Civil War; it was expanded to honor all dead American soliders from all wars after World War I.

Originally, starting in the 1860s, Memorial Day was observed primarily by small northern towns and cities as a sacred day when the war dead are mourned. The name 'Memorial Day' had been used as an alternative name as early as 1882 but was not declared the official name by the federal government until 1967 and the date was fixed on by Congress in 1971 to occur on the last Monday of May.

Many people observe this holiday by visiting cemetaries and memorials; a national moment of remembrance usually takes place at 3 pm local time and The National Memorial Day Concert takes place at the United States Capitol. There are usually a wide variety of other holiday and patriotic events such as parades and memorial ceremonies also. Flags are usually placed on the graves of the military dead in cemetaries across the nation.

As a girl, my parents often took us to a parade or a picnic, but always saved time out of the busy day to visit a cemetary that was old and often overlooked. I grew up in a very rural area and there were small old cemetaries throughout the countryside; some of them only contained a handful of burials and some of them hadn't been used for many years, but there were, occasionally, one or two graves of a veteran. We didn't always have flowers or flags to place on these graves; sometimes a few wildflowers from an obliging field served the purpose, but we felt that a visit and a thank you was what was most important.

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