Thursday, May 25, 2006
Remember meaning of Memorial Day
Often we forget the true significance of holidays.
Such I’m afraid is the case for Memorial Day.
Originally called Decoration Day, it is a day of remembrance for those who have died in our nation’s service.
One road trip I remember most as a youngster was going with my best friend and his parents to Shiloh Battlefield in neighboring Tennessee.
It was a history lesson. I think it had a lasting effect on me. It makes me stop, particularly on Memorial Day, and think about those fallen in service to our country.
The battlefield is located in Hardin County, Tenn., on the west bank of the Tennessee River, nine miles southwest of Savannah, Tenn. There’s an additional park unit located in Corinth, 23 miles southwest of Shiloh.
Shiloh Military Park was established in 1894 to preserve the scene of the first major battle in the Western theater of the Civil War. The two-day battle, April 6-7, 1862, involved about 65,000 Union and 44,000 Confederate troops. This battle resulted in nearly 24,000 killed, wounded and missing. It proved to be a decisive victory for the federal forces when they advanced on and seized control of the Confederate railway system at Corinth.
The park has within its boundaries the Shiloh National Cemetery along with the well preserved Indian mounds that are listed as a historic landmark.
One of my most memorable trips as an adult was one to the Washington, D.C. area a couple years back for the National Newspaper Association Convention.
Pam and I got to see lots of historic sites, including a glimpse of the Arlington National Cemetery. That view of only a portion of the more than 260,000 gravestones will live with me forever.
That, too, will hopefully cause me to pause more, particularly on Memorial Day, and remember the fallen heroes.
Next Monday, May 29, 2006, the 138th observance of Memorial Day will be held on the hallowed grounds of Arlington. The patriotic ceremony will honor the service and sacrifice of America’s military members.
Unfortunately, a traditional observance of Memorial Day has diminished over the years in many communities.
Like many holidays, we want to treat it just as “another day off work.”
Next Monday, while cooking out and spending time with family or whatever fun activity we might be involved in, we need to pause and think of the true meaning of Memorial Day.
We need to be thankful for our freedoms and those who fought for them.
To help re-educate and remind Americans of the true meaning of Memorial Day, the “National Moment of Remembrance” resolution was passed in December 2000, which asks at 3 p.m. local time, for all Americans “to voluntarily and informally observe in their own way a moment of remembrance and respect, pausing from whatever they are doing for a moment of silence or listening to ‘Taps.’”
Have fun this weekend. Spend valuable time with family. Be safe.
But most all, remember. And show thanks. Say a prayer.
In 1915, Moina Michael conceived an idea to wear red poppies on Memorial Day in honor of those who died serving our nation during war. In 1922 the VFW became the first veterans’ organization to nationally sell poppies.
Her own poem reads, “We cherish, too, the poppy red, that grows on fields where valor led. It seems to signal to the skies, that blood of heroes never dies.”
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