Sunday, May 27, 2012

A history lesson about.... Memorial Day

Memorial Day, was originally called “Decoration Day”, it is a day of remembrance for those who have died for our nation while serving in the military.

There are many stories as to its actual beginnings, with over two dozen cities and towns laying claim to being the birthplace of Memorial Day. There is also evidence that organized women's groups in the South were decorating graves before the end of the Civil War: a hymn published in 1867, "Kneel Where Our Loves are Sleeping" by Nella L. Sweet carried the dedication "To The Ladies of the South who are Decorating the Graves of the Confederate Dead" (Source: Duke University's Historic American Sheet Music, 1850-1920). While Waterloo N.Y. was officially declared the birthplace of Memorial Day by President Lyndon Johnson in May 1966, it's difficult to prove conclusively the origins of the day. It is more likely that it had many separate beginnings; each of those towns and every planned or spontaneous gathering of people to honor the war dead in the 1860's tapped into the general human need to honor our dead, each contributed honorably to the growing movement that culminated in Gen Logan giving his official proclamation in 1868. It is not important who was the very first, what is important is that Memorial Day was established. Memorial Day is not about division. It is about reconciliation; it is about coming together to honor those who gave their all.

Today, most people view Memorial Day as another day off but perhaps we should all give thanks to those that have given the ultimate sacrifice so we can have a day off. Paying tribute to the fallen soldiers can be as simple as taking a personal moment of silence, display your appreciation to a family of a fallen soldier or help your local cemetery place flags on gravesites, or maybe just attending a local Memorial Day parade with your family.

 It's up to us to keep the memories alive of the fallen and to pass on the importance of this holiday to the younger generations. So spend a few moments this weekend with your children and grandchildren and tell them what Memorial Day is truly all about…..


About the author: Tom Branch, Jr. is a freelance outdoor writer and full time Lieutenant/Firefighter-Paramedic with over 27+ years of service with the Gwinnett County Fire Service in Georgia.  He has been working and consulting in the Outdoor Industry for over 17 years and is currently creating and managing a pro fishing team, developing new products, promoting products through demonstrations, designing packaging, and participates in different forums, radio & television shows.  Tom and his wife, Kim are supporters and volunteers with Operation One Voice. They live north of Atlanta near Braselton, GA with their two labs “Jake” and “Scout".

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