Monday, May 25, 2009

Memorial Day

From a site titled: Memorial Day History

Memorial Day, originally called Decoration Day, is a day of remembrance for those who have died in our nation's service.... Memorial Day was officially proclaimed on 5 May 1868 by General John Logan, national commander of the Grand Army of the Republic, in his General Order No. 11, and was first observed on 30 May 1868, when flowers were placed on the graves of Union and Confederate soldiers at Arlington National Cemetery. The first state to officially recognize the holiday was New York in 1873. By 1890 it was recognized by all of the northern states. The South refused to acknowledge the day, honoring their dead on separate days until after World War I (when the holiday changed from honoring just those who died fighting in the Civil War to honoring Americans who died fighting in any war). It is now celebrated in almost every State on the last Monday in May (passed by Congress with the National Holiday Act of 1971 (P.L. 90 - 363) to ensure a three day weekend for Federal holidays)...

Although I consider myself to be patriotic and am grateful for the freedoms that we possess as Americans, I really don't think many of us know what our freedom means, or how precious it really is. I have recently heard my father-in-law share some of his experiences from the marshy battlefields of Vietnam, and having that personal connection seems to have shaken my sense of appreciation for what our freedom truly means.

Memorial day seems to have at it's core the focus of remembering those who sacrificed their lives, and may we never forget. But I also am moved to remember and appreciate those who were willing to make those sacrifices and were spared and able to come home.

While on our trip, we were able to visit the Veterans' Memorial Gardens in Lincoln. My grandfather, a WWII Vet, has been a part of the development and upkeep of this memorial park. It was initiated after the traveling Vietnam wall made a stop in Lincoln. There are bricks to commemorate specific veterans who are connected to the Lincoln area and there are Memorials to just about every area of service: Army, Navy, Marines, Air Force, Medical, Coast Guard, Special Forces, Women Who Served, K-9s, POW-MIA, as well as specific Memorials for each of the wars. Here is a slide show from our visit. The Gardens also included a fantastic children play area. I thank God that we live in a place where our children can play freely.

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