Tag Archives: Decoration Day

Memorial Day 2017


Memoiral Day Weekend! The start of summer movie season and a little bit more.

Time stands still for no one. Memorial Day comes around toward the end of May every year and we celebrate with backyard barbecues and the beginning of Summer Blockbuster Movie season. We have some really good movies out right now and some that are kind of …interesting. But Memorial Day started as Decoration Day in the years following the U. S. Civil War. Memorial Day began as a time when the widows of soldiers who did in that Civil War went to clean and decorate the graves of both Union and Confederate soldiers in burial sites near their towns and communities. Memorial Day began as a day to remember those soldiers (sailors, airmen, Marines, Coast Guardsmen) who died fighting for every American’s freedom and way of life, and the freedom of many, many more.

When we were kids, of course there were the barbecues and maybe a ceremony or parade. The high school marching band and the Veterans of Foreign Wars would march down Main Street and play patriotic music. For my generation we had Star Wars and Superman movies to see (or see again).

Now that I have classmates who have died in the recent wars, and I have friends and fellow graduates who lost husbands, wives, fiancés, children, siblings….My perspective has changed. Now that I have have been part of an Afghan Army Advising Team that had active threat streams targeting us and our counterparts, my perspective has changed.  Some people will spend a good chunk of time this weekend bringing their children, nephews and nieces to the military cemetery, or war monuments, to honor departed fathers, mothers, uncles, aunts, grandparents, loved-ones and friends. Others will barbecue and go to the movies or concerts.

There’s a meme that’s gone around Facebook the last few years with the widow at the military grave bawling her eyes out next to a toddler and an infant. That touches my heart. I have a dear friend who loved flying helicopters more than almost anything in the world. But she may not ever fly a helicopter again because she loves her fiancee who died fighting in Iraq more than she loves flying. Fortunately, it’s her son that she actually loves more than anything else in this world. I have classmates and fellow graduates from West Point who died in these recent wars. I know a graduate from the class after mine who lost her son to combat this year. My heart moves for these stories and others.

Some people will never quite get past the loss of their loved-ones in combat. And maybe they never should. I don’t know. I’m not them. I haven’t walked thru their experiences or lost anyone I loved more than my own life, yet. So all I can say to them is, “Grieve as you need to and live as you can.”

Some people don’t quite understand the sacrifice of courageous military men and women who died fighting for their freedom. Some people just enjoy a sunny weekend, grilling food in their backyards, drinking beverage of choice, and going to rock shows or movies.

Some of us military folk have looked down on those who just barbecue and go to movies and concerts for Memorial Day. We think we’re superior because we understand the sacrifice that made it possible for the others to celebrate. I’m not sure that either celebrating without knowing why, or the smug sense of superiority is really very good. I think our relatives and friends who died for our freedom and way of life, would want us to do all of these and more, but do it to honor their memory and without feeling smug.

Thanks for reading. If you liked or hated what you read, please tell your friends.  If you liked it and want to read more, feel free to peruse my blog, and also click follow.  Lastly, please remember that DoD, Texas Military Department, the U. S. Army and the Texas National Guard all have actual spokespersons and Public Affairs Offices and I am none of these.  These opinions are my own.


Memorial Day, to Honor those who died fighting for the United States

On April 25, 1866, in an act of generosity and reconciliation noted by newsmen and poets of the time, a women’s memorial association in Columbus, Mississippi, decorated the graves of both Confederate and Union soldiers.  Local records of the period indicate that at least two ministers joined the event, giving exhortation and leading prayer.

This Memorial Day, can we all follow the example of these ladies?  Just because they were from the South doesn’t invalidate the virtue of their idea and rightness of their example.  They got it right.  They laid aside the animosity and anger and politics of the day to honor the fallen Soldiers of both Confederate and Union Armies.  They didn’t spit on the graves of the Union Soldiers and lay wreaths to their Confederate dead.  They gave similar honor to the graves of both Union and Confederate dead.

Let the politics go for a day or few hours.  Set aside the racial politics, gender politics, class strife and religious differences long enough to honor the Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen, Marines and Coast Guardsmen who died fighting for your right to believe those different opinions and practice those different religions.  Perhaps in doing so, we’ll see that we aren’t so different or so divided after all.

Opinions expressed in these writings are my own, unless otherwise cited, and do not necessarily reflect those of my employers, the National Guard, the U. S. Army, or the DoD.







So, what are we Celebrating, Part 9 — Memorial Day (Decoration Day)



While some Americans may celebrate Memorial Day with an outdoor cookout to mark the beginning of summer, and others may consider it the beginning of summer blockbuster movie season, Memorial Day is truly a solemn occasion. Originally known as Decoration Day, Memorial Day is the day to remember all those who died in the service of the United States during all of our wars.

     Many cities and towns in the U. S. make a claim to the earliest observance commemorating the fallen heroes of the American Civil War, with events dating back to the 1860s. During and after the Civil War, the widows, orphans and relatives of the dead soldiers and sailors, from both Union and Confederacy, would decorate the graves of these fallen heroes with flowers, while singing hymns and reciting prayers.

     The earliest, famous, national declaration calling for observance of Decoration Day was on 5 May 1868 by General John Logan. As leader of a national organization of Union Army veterans known as the Grand Army of the Republic, Logan issued his General Order No. 11. The Order says in part, The 30th of May, 1868, is designated for the purpose of strewing with flowers, or otherwise decorating the graves of comrades who died in defense of their country during the late rebellion, and whose bodies now lie in almost every city, village and hamlet churchyard in the land.”

     The fallen of the Union Army continued to be observed on 30 May for many years following, but southern states recognized the fallen of the Confederacy on different dates. After the Great War, World War I, the day became an observance for the fallen service members of all our wars and southern states began to observe it as well.

     In May 1966, U. S. President Lyndon B. Johnson signed a proclamation recognizing Waterloo, NY as the official birthplace of Memorial Day. With a Federal Law in 1968 and an Executive Order in 1971, the last Monday of May was codified as Memorial Day. Since then many cities and towns hold parades, as well as ceremonies at local Veterans’ cemeteries, on Memorial Day. Such observances dwindled in the 1990s. But after thirteen years of the Global War on Terrorism and Overseas Contingency Operations in Afghanistan, Iraq, the Philippines, sub-Saharan Africa, and other places, during the early 21st century, Memorial Day is becoming more heartfelt again.

So what are we celebrating, or in this case observing?

I think we’re celebrating the lives and mourning the deaths of all our fallen service members who died in war, or as General Odierno used to say, “all our Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen, Marines, Coast Guardsmen and Civilians.” Regardless of religious or political affiliation, let us join together to honor the memory of all these brave men and women who gave their lives in defense of our country, our Constitution, our way of life, and our freedom, as well as freeing others.

Let us celebrate the lives and mourn the deaths of these our brothers and sisters, sons and daughters, husbands, wives, mothers, fathers, aunts, uncles, grandparents, ancestors, nephews, nieces, friends, classmates who answered the call when our country, Constitution and way of life were threatened. Let us observe their deaths and honor their heroism, but let us also remember and honor that for which they fought and gave their lives: our freedom of speech, freedom of the press, freedom of religion, our right to keep and bear arms, our freedom of association, our right to petition for redress of grievance, for our right to due process of law and our freedom from unreasonable search and seizure. Let us not forget those they left behind, their bereaved widows, widowers, orphans, loved ones and friends.

Let us commemorate those who gave their last full measure of devotion that we might remain a nation of laws and not of men, that we might remain one nation, under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.


Do you have ancestors, friends, relatives or loved ones who died in the Service, during a war?  Tell us their names and a little bit about them in the comments below.

Views and opinions expressed in these writings are my own, unless attributed or documented to someone else, and either way are not necessarily those of my employers.