Wednesday, May 30, 2012

"Happy" Memorial Day?


It’s May 30th ,  so Happy Memorial Day! (if that really is the appropriate greeting for this Day of Remembrance)
There appears to be some confusion about this day.
History teaches:

Memorial Day -  originally known as Decoration Day - was officially proclaimed on May 5 1868 by General John Logan, national commander of the Grand Army of the Republic and first observed on May 30, 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.
In 1915, inspired by the poem "In Flanders Fields," Moina Michael replied with her own poem:

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.

She then conceived the idea to wear red poppies on Memorial Day in honor of those who died serving the nation during war. She was the first to wear one, and sold poppies to her friends and co-workers with the money going to benefit servicemen in need
Traditional observance of Memorial Day has diminished over the years. Today, many Americans have forgotten the meaning and traditions. At many cemeteries, the graves of the fallen are ignored, neglected. Most people no longer remember – or were ever taught - proper flag etiquette for the day. While there are towns and cities that still hold Memorial Day parades, many have not held one in decades

Many think when Congress made the day into a three-day weekend with the National Holiday Act of 1971, it made it easier for people to be distracted from the spirit and meaning of the day. The VFW stated in its 2002 Memorial Day address: "Changing the date merely to create three-day weekends has undermined the very meaning of the day. No doubt, this has contributed greatly to the general public's nonchalant observance of Memorial Day."
On January 19, 1999 then Senator Daniel Inouye introduced a bill to restore the traditional day of observance of Memorial Day back to May 30th instead of "the last Monday in May". April 19, 1999 Representative Jim Gibbons introduced the bill to the House. The bills were referred to the Committee on the Judiciary and the Committee on Government Reform.

To date, there have been no further developments on the bill.

Conjoined with the above is the crossfire of political warfare. Flagitious politicians discovered long ago they could use War and Armies to help ensure their re-election despite their lies in violation of their sacred oath, fear mongering a trusting but uninformed electorate to send the blood of America’s prime along with her treasure to be spilled and spent in useless, senseless, illegal wars for their own sake while purring words of “protecting our Liberty” and “keeping us Free” despite copious truth no such “threats to national security” really existed. If Johnny came marching home it was often without arms or legs or, worse, the bodies marched home by comrades. Mother’s and widows received a commemorative flag for compensation and comfort from a grateful nation who, as a result of their sacrifice – voluntarily or conscripted - can save 20% today on a new mattress and box springs! Thanks again - from of a grateful nation.
Fortunately, more and more today declare themselves Anti-War having come to despise the waste of lives in senseless engagements. The young soldier who lost his life or limbs in Afghanistan today – for what? Protecting what? Which Freedom Liberty or Right of ours is more secure today than it was yesterday because a young soldier volunteered to be dead somewhere in the Afghanistan outback?
Given the choice, most returning Vets are pro-comrade but anti-war.
My neighbor said
I don't claim to speak for all veterans. I don't want to see Memorial Day become a junior Veterans Day. Memorial Day is about the men who did not come home. The sailors of the USS Arizona. The soldiers who never got off the beaches of Normandy. The Marines lost
on crumby, little Pacific islands. The pilots who had one bomb run or dogfight too many. The men who became the cruel reality of the statistics of war. 

   Memorial Day isn't just about the battles immortalized in film and literature but the many battles and fire fights that live only in the memories of the survivors. The men of whom history takes no notice. The men who left behind mothers, wives and children. Men who left
holes only in the lives of those who knew them but not in the telling of History. Men who had no glory or medals - just the final horror of war.

   On Memorial Day, I unleash the memories, lift my glass high, toast my friends who aren't here and hide a tear…

Happy Memorial Day? Indeed…..

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