Another Memorial Day is upon us. For altogether too many U.S. citizens, it is simply a three-day weekend. But for many, it is a day to remember those who paid the ultimate sacrifice, gave their lives that this country might remain free. Very few remember what the day was originally set aside for.
As a child I have vivid memories of going to the cemetery with my mother and grandmother to place flowers on the graves of those who had died. Shivers would run up my spine as I read the inscriptions on the tombstones and wondered about the life of the individual who was lying under there. The feeling was particularly strong when laying flowers on the grave of a Civil War veteran.
Back then, placing flowers was the purpose of the day, and it was known as Decoration Day. The holiday was initiated by the Grand Army of the Republic (Union veterans of the Civil War) in 1868. Over the years it has morphed into a day of remembering all those who died in defense of their country. Even so, couldn’t we still call it Decoration Day in remembrance of its beginnings?