It is finally summer time! You no longer have to worry about assignments, tests, or deadlines. Woohoo! A few days after summertime officially begins, your family plans a barbecue and swim party for Memorial Day. You are excited to see your friends and family, but you have some unanswered questions. What is this holiday’s meaning? Is it simply about gathering together on a summer day to relax and celebrate? Is it just a day that the mail does not run? Or, is it a day that has a much greater significance? If you read to the end of this blog, you will no longer have any questions about Memorial Day and its significance.
Everybody can probably recite a few facts about the Civil War that they learned in middle school; however, it was much more than just a few statistics to the people who lived through its trauma. Thousands of young men and a few women valiantly left their families to embark on a journey full of fear, pain, misery, and death. Although some made it out of the war, many were not as fortunate. Mothers and fathers wept over the deaths of their children, who sacrificed their lives for what they believed.
In a time of despair and grieving, Americans united and honored the young individuals who selflessly gave their lives in the Civil War. Throughout the nation, people paid their respects by placing flowers and other objects on the graves of those who died in the war. Because this was occurring in different places around the United States, the exact location where Memorial Day began is unknown. Despite the anonymity, the government declared Waterloo, New York, as the first official city where Memorial Day was recognized because of the festivities held there in honor of the people who perished.
Interestingly, this holiday was originally referred to as Decoration Day because many people would place different decorations on the soldiers’ graves to honor them. Regardless of the name, Memorial Day was designed to take a day out of the year to honor the men and women who perished fighting for what they believed in. Each town might have different traditions for celebrating the holiday, but every festivity boils down to honor and respect. Although this holiday started in honor of those who perished in the Civil War, it eventually became known as a celebration of life for all the people who died fighting in a war.
In 1971, Memorial Day was recognized as a national holiday when governmental offices close to recognize those who paid the ultimate sacrifice for this country. Throughout time, this holiday lost its true meaning. Many suggest it is due to the extended weekend. Perhaps it is because we have become desensitized to the true pain death causes. Whatever the case might be, it is something we can change. Fascinatingly, Congress asked that everything stop at three o’clock for only a minute on Memorial Day in remembrance of the true meaning of this holiday. In the midst of the barbecues and summer festivities, take a moment of silence with the rest of the nation on the last Monday in May to recognize those who gave the ultimate sacrifice. I will take a moment of silence this Memorial Day. Will you?
John 15:13 states, “There is no greater love than to lay down one’s life for one’s friends” (New Living Translation).
Written by Trisha (NEW: Click on author’s name to learn more about him or her!)