Memorial Day: A time to remember our fallen heroes

The beginnings of Memorial Day are believed to go back to shortly after the Civil War, May 5, 1868, when Maj. Gen. John A Logan, the head of an organization of Union veterans, established “Decoration Day” as a time to recognize the war dead by decorating their graves with flowers. The date was chosen, it seems, because flowers of some sort would be in bloom in most parts of the country. The first large observance was held that same year (1868) at Arlington National Cemetery, across the Potomac River from Washington, D.C. Cities and states adopted the holiday over the years, and by the end of the 19th century, Memorial Day ceremonies were being held on May 30 throughout the nation. Only after World War I, however, was the day expanded to honor those who died in all American wars. In 1971, Memorial Day was declared a national holiday by an act of Congress, and it was then also placed on the last Monday in May.

Memorial Day: a time for connection

Readers of this blog will know how important I believe it is to study history—to connect with the past so we can better understand the present and better prepare for the future. In particular, Memorial Day is a time to connect with those who have gone before and given their lives for the freedoms we enjoy today. It's a time to reflect on our values as a nation and to say a prayer of gratitude for those men and women in uniform who still serve this great nation.

The American flag: our Memorial Day symbol

This video featuring the wonderful song “Ragged Old Flag,” written and sung by the late Johnny Cash, takes us on a trip back in time and inspires us to reflect on all that our flag has seen and all that it still represents. I encourage you to do something concrete this Memorial Day to express your appreciation for those who have died in service to our country. Attend a local celebration. Contribute to a veterans group. Support organizations that help wounded warriors. Our nation is only as strong as we, its citizens, so we must each do our part to keep that flag flying high.

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