Michael Wilcox, Publisher/Editor
How many of us know the true meaning of Memorial Day? I would guess not many of us under 50, do? For most of us nowadays, Memorial Day signifies the first day of summer- a rare Monday, where most of us don’t have to work, and we spend time at the beach, ballpark or campgrounds.
Memorial Day is one of the oldest holidays. It was originally coined, “Decoration Day.” It began in the late 1860’s as a day to honor the fallen in the Civil War. After World War 1, it was expanded to include all wars, and therefore southern states, began observing the holiday as well.
It is now celebrated in every state on the last Monday in May. Many municipalities including Clare, Harrison, and Marion hold parades that include many marching war heroes, who walk through town on their way to the local cemetery, where a short ceremony is usually held.
Heck, I remember many moons ago, as a young boy scout, marching in those parades. It was a tradition to get up early that morning, get in my boy scout uniform, ride my bike to where the parade began, and march with everyone else to the cemetery.
Unlike today, back then the entire community gathered at the cemetery. Not that the community I grew up in was very big, but it seemed like it when nearly 500 people gathered at the cemetery, to hear the mayor, several veterans and others tell us why it is important to observe this holiday. It seemed like the hour observance took forever to this uninspired kid and I couldn’t wait until the taps were played and we all could leave.
At the time, I really didn’t understand why we were being coerced into doing this, but much later in life, I now understand how meaningful it was. I now cherish those remembrances of early Memorial Days.
Tradition tell us, that as good Americans, we are suppose to display an American flag from dawn until noon each Memorial Day. That flag during that time is to be at half mast, to honor the war dead. At 3 p.m., all Americans are to voluntarily and informally observe in their own way a Moment of Remembrance, pausing from whatever they are doing for a moment of silence. This is called the National Moment of Remembrance.
Many of us confuse Memorial Day with Veteran’s Day, despite there being a clear distinction. On Veteran’s Day we honor all those that fought in war- the living, wounded and dead. On Memorial Day, this Monday, we honor those that died fighting for our freedom.
I would like to strongly suggest you take time out from your holiday plans to wave that flag, attend your local town’s parade, and even take a drive out to the local cemetery with flowers in tow, to pay your respects to those you might know that give their lives for us. It won’t take long, and you will feel great knowing you have paid your respects for those that fought on your behalf.