As many readers know I've believed in supporting U.S. Troops practically my entire life -- both those brave American men and women fighting today and the many who've served, endured war-related injuries, or lost their lives in past wars and conflicts to make the ultimate sacrifice for the USA. Memorial Day always to awaken me to a sad reality of changing times, though, and how younger generations see the meaning of the day in an entirely different light.
Ask just about anyone under the age of 40 (except for most military service people and military families) what this Memorial Day evokes and you're likely to hear some variation of one of these responses
- It's a long holiday weekend off from work and school
- It's a non-stop 3-day celebration of some of the best store sales
- It's the official beginning of BBQ season
- It's an early kick-off party to summer days ahead
|Patriotic Parade in my Hometown Circa 1961, MommyBlogExpert.com|
At this time of year I also recollect as a child attending Memorial Day to remember those who had served and sacrificed their lives in past wars, sometimes at a war memorial while other times at a cemetery where I would help put flags next to all the graves. Lastly, I firmly recall going to watch the annual patriotic parade of men from our local VFW chapter marching by.
Back then this day of remembrance was typically marked largely as a somber shout out to our military as well as an uplifting patriotic celebration every May 30th. In fact, it wasn't until 1971 when this Federal Holiday was officially changed to the last Monday in May to create a three-day long weekend every year.
Interestingly, it's worth pointing out that to this day, the Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW) and Sons of Union Veterans of the Civil War (SUVCW) continue to lobby to revert back to the original date. I tend to agree with these vet groups in that creating three-day weekends out of convenience is likely one of the biggest reasons why the younger generation no longer understands the true meaning of Memorial Day.
|New Windsor Cemetery, NY, MommyBlogExpert.com|
History of the Day
Memorial Day was originally called Decoration Day. It was first observed by Freedmen (freed enslaved Blacks from the South) in Charleston, South Carolina in 1865 in memory of fallen Union Civil War soldiers. The first reference to "Memorial Day" was in 1882 and this gradually came to be the preferred name of the day. However, the observance did not become widely known until the end of World War II and the U.S. government didn't officially change the name to Memorial Day until 1967, shortly before the peak of American involvement in the Vietnam War.
|Hudson River Valley, NY, MommyBlogExpert.com|
How You Can Help Bring Back the Day's True Meaning
The best way, in my opinion, to recapture the day's original semblance is to teach our children how important it is to honor the brave men and women who have served our country in the past, as well as those who are actively serving now. Also, we can't forget American military families as well as living veterans -- instead we need to support them and look to them for inspiration.
A few other ideas to take a more active role:
- You and your kids can send messages thanking military service people and their families through USO here
- Families can also find lots of additional ways to get involved at JoiningForces.gov
Please Leave a Comment
What other ways do you know about to help remind us all what Memorial Day in America is really all about?
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