Fri, 25 May 2007 20:34:13 -0700 Memorial Day
A fubar user blog.
email@example.com (Lady Victoria Eclectic Pagan)
Fri, 25 May 2007 20:34:13 -0700 2007-05-25T20:34:13-07:00 Memorial Day History
Memorial Day, originally called Decoration Day, is a day of remembrance for those who have died in our nation's service. There are many stories as to its actual beginnings, with over two dozen cities and towns laying claim to being the birthplace of Memorial Day. There is also evidence that organized women's groups in the South were decorating graves before the end of the Civil War: a hymn published in 1867, "Kneel Where Our Loves are Sleeping" by Nella L. Sweet carried the dedication "To The Ladies of the South who are Decorating the Graves of the Confederate Dead" (Source: Duke University's Historic American Sheet Music, 1850-1920). While Waterloo N.Y. was officially declared the birthplace of Memorial Day by President Lyndon Johnson in May 1966, it's difficult to prove conclusively the origins of the day. It is more likely that it had many separate beginnings; each of those towns and every planned or spontaneous gathering of people to honor the war dead in the 1860's tapped into the general human need to honor our dead, each contributed honorably to the growing movement that culminated in Gen Logan giving his official proclamation in 1868. It is not important who was the very first, what is important is that Memorial Day was established. Memorial Day is not about division. It is about reconciliation; it is about coming together to honor those who gave their all.
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), though several southern states have an additional separate day for honoring the Confederate war dead: January 19 in Texas, April 26 in Alabama, Florida, Georgia, and Mississippi; May 10 in South Carolina; and June 3 (Jefferson Davis' birthday) in Louisiana and Tennessee.
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 of an 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. Later a Madam Guerin from France was visiting the United States and learned of this new custom started by Ms.Michael and when she returned to France, made artificial red poppies to raise money for war orphaned children and widowed women. This tradition spread to other countries. In 1921, the Franco-American Children's League sold poppies nationally to benefit war orphans of France and Belgium. The League disbanded a year later and Madam Guerin approached the VFW for help. Shortly before Memorial Day in 1922 the VFW became the first veterans' organization to nationally sell poppies. Two years later their "Buddy" Poppy program was selling artificial poppies made by disabled veterans. In 1948 the US Post Office honored Ms Michael for her role in founding the National Poppy movement by issuing a red 3 cent postage stamp with her likeness on it.
Traditional observance of Memorial day has diminished over the years. Many Americans nowadays have forgotten the meaning and traditions of Memorial Day. At many cemeteries, the graves of the fallen are increasingly ignored, neglected. Most people no longer remember the proper flag etiquette for the day. While there are towns and cities that still hold Memorial Day parades, many have not held a parade in decades. Some people think the day is for honoring any and all dead, and not just those fallen in service to our country.
There are a few notable exceptions. Since the late 50's on the Thursday before Memorial Day, the 1,200 soldiers of the 3d U.S. Infantry place small American flags at each of the more than 260,000 gravestones at Arlington National Cemetery. They then patrol 24 hours a day during the weekend to ensure that each flag remains standing. In 1951, the Boy Scouts and Cub Scouts of St. Louis began placing flags on the 150,000 graves at Jefferson Barracks National Cemetery as an annual Good Turn, a practice that continues to this day. More recently, beginning in 1998, on the Saturday before the observed day for Memorial Day, the Boys Scouts and Girl Scouts place a candle at each of approximately 15,300 grave sites of soldiers buried at Fredericksburg and Spotsylvania National Military Park on Marye's Heights (the Luminaria Program). And in 2004, Washington D.C. held its first Memorial Day parade in over 60 years.
To help re-educate and remind Americans of the true meaning of Memorial Day, the "National Moment of Remembrance" resolution was passed on Dec 2000 which asks that 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."
The Moment of Remembrance is a step in the right direction to returning the meaning back to the day. What is needed is a full return to the original day of observance. Set aside one day out of the year for the nation to get together to remember, reflect and honor those who have given their all in service to their country.
But what may be needed to return the solemn, and even sacred, spirit back to Memorial Day is for a return to its traditional day of observance. Many feel that when Congress made the day into a three-day weekend in with the National Holiday Act of 1971, it made it all the easier for people to be distracted from the spirit and meaning of the day. As 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 Senator Inouye introduced bill S 189 to the Senate which proposes to restore the traditional day of observance of Memorial Day back to May 30th instead of "the last Monday in May". On April 19, 1999 Representative Gibbons introduced the bill to the House (H.R. 1474). The bills were referred the Committee on the Judiciary and the Committee on Government Reform. To date, there has been no further developments on the bill. firstname.lastname@example.org (Lady Victoria Eclectic Pagan)
Fri, 25 May 2007 20:24:12 -0700 2007-05-25T20:24:12-07:00 The Blue and The Gray... So That We May Not Forget
The smell of freshly cut grass, the vibrant red of freshly planted geraniums and the tiny American flags being scattered throughout cemeteries are all signs that Memorial Day is just around the corner. Memorial Day is a time to honor those who gave their lives for our country and to remember loved ones we have lost. This idea of remembrance began sometime in the mid-1860s and was called Decoration Day. It was started to honor all the soldiers who gave their lives during the Civil War. Several towns throughout the country lay claim to its origination. Although our government gives credit to the town of Waterloo, N.Y. there is documented proof of other towns having similar celebrations before Waterloo. Most of the stories I have read concerning the origination of this celebration are quite fascinating; however, there are too many to tell them all. After all, it really makes no difference where Memorial Day originated so long as the purpose for which it stands is not lost over time.
The earliest documented account of Decoration Day took place in Boalsburg, Penn. sometime during 1864. A young woman named Emma Hunter, whose father commanded a regiment at Gettysburg was placing flowers upon his tomb when she met a woman named Mrs. Meyer who was placing flowers on her son's grave. The two women agreed to meet the following year and once again decorate the graves. Eventually, over time, other town's people joined in and decorated graves in the cemetery.
April 29 (? April 26), 1866, the first anniversary of General J. E. Johnston's surrender of the last of the major Confederate troops to the Union, marks another clearly documented account of Decoration Day celebrations. Four women in Columbus, Mississippi met in Friendship Cemetery and laid wreaths of flowers upon the graves of the Confederate soldiers laid to rest there. After finishing the Confederate graves, the women then placed magnolia blossoms upon the graves of Union soldiers. With the Reconstruction period just under way and military occupation still in the south, a group of Union soldiers looked on as the women finished all forty of the graves. News soon spread of their act of honor and it reached Horace Greeley, founder of the New York Tribune, then editor of the New York Herald-Tribune. Impressed with the story, Greeley wrote a tribute to the women in honor of their noble act. Francis Finch, having read the tribute, was then inspired to write the famous poem "The BLUE and the GRAY". Her poem was published in the September, 1867 issue of the Atlantic Monthly;
"Sadly, but not without upbraiding,
The generous deed was done:
In the storm of the years that are fading,
No braver battle was won:
Under the sod and dew,
Waiting the judgement day;
Under the blossoms the blue,
Under the garlands the gray."
There are several other small towns in the south with documented accounts similar to this one and the date is the same in most of the stories.
Despite all of the other documented accounts, Waterloo, N.Y. legally claims the origination of Memorial Day. On May 17, 1966 the U.S. House of Representatives and the Congress on May 19, 1966 passed House Concur- rent Resolution 587, which states: "Resolved that the Congress of the United States, in recognition of the patriotic tradition set in motion 100 years ago in the village of Waterloo, New York does hereby officially recognize Waterloo, New York as the birthplace of Memorial Day." On May 26, 1966, then President Lyndon B. Johnson signed a Presidential Proclamation recognizing Waterloo as the birthplace of Memorial Day.
The Waterloo story begins sometime in the summer of 1865, when a local pharmacist named Henry C. Welles suggested to a group of friends that they should perform some type of ceremony honoring the soldiers who gave their lives during the Great Conflict. However, nothing came of the idea until the following spring when Welles pitched the idea to General John B. Murray. Murray, being a veteran of the war, was eager to carry out the idea Welles had presented to him. Murray in a very short time rallied support from other veterans. Welles and Murray formed a committee on which they both chaired. On May 5, 1866, the village of Waterloo held their first Decoration Day ceremony, paying tribute to those who gave their lives in the Civil War. Village flags were flown at half mast.
General Murray led a parade of veterans, civic groups and citizens in a march to the three local cemeteries. Once there, they decorated the graves of the dead soldiers with garlands of flowers. The ceremony was repeated the following year on the same date.
Then, in 1868, G.A.R. (Grand Army of the Republic) Commander in Chief John A Logan issued General Order #11: "The 30th day of May 1868 is designated for the purpose of strewing with flowers or otherwise decorating the graves of comrades who died in defense of their country during the late rebellion, whose bodies lie in almost every city, village and hamlet churchyard in the land."
In 1868, following Logan's general order, Waterloo changed their date to May 30th. This was also the first year that Decoration Day ceremonies were held at Arlington National Cemetery during which General James Garfield spoke, paying tribute to fallen comrades who gave their lives for both sides of the conflict.
The G.A.R. lobbied to have Decoration Day recognized as a holiday. New York was the first state to do so in 1873 and most states followed shortly thereafter. Up until the end of WWI, the G.A.R. still had the charge of Decoration Day ceremonies. After WWI, the duty was turned over to the American Legion and this was about the same time the name was changed from Decoration Day to Memorial Day, thus becoming a day to remember not only Civil War soldiers but all soldiers who gave their lives for our country.
As time has passed, it has become a day to remember all dead and not just service men and women. A nickname for the day is "poppy day", because it is also the day you see volunteers selling artificial poppies to help raise money for disabled veterans.
On May 26, 1971, then President Richard M. Nixon declared that Memorial Day should be a national holiday celebrated on the last Monday in May. Even today, after all the time that has passed, nine states in the union do not recognize the last Monday in May as Memorial Day. They do, however, observe their own form of Memorial Day on different days. Hopefully the purpose of this holiday will not be lost to future generations of Americans and will always be remembered as we celebrate Memorial Day. email@example.com (Lady Victoria Eclectic Pagan)
Fri, 25 May 2007 20:02:18 -0700 2007-05-25T20:02:18-07:00 ON THIS DAY
ON THIS DAY
The bugle has sounded
Its notes drift away.
This time now belongs to you….
On this day for one brief moment
Hear the silence fill the air.
Think of those, who walked beside us;
Now no longer there.
Then, don’t cry, but hear their laughter
For their spirit lives inside,
Let the mystic stream of mem’ry
Fill our hearts with pride!
Make us humble,
Make us knowing,
And reflect on what is done…
On this day
For now, forever
Make this nation one!
On this day,
For all the fallen,
Make this nation one!
Music and lyric by Charles Strouse
© 2003 Charles Strouse Publications
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Fri, 25 May 2007 19:56:41 -0700 2007-05-25T19:56:41-07:00 Last Monday in May
“Last Monday in May”©
By John T. Bird
We pause to remember those who died
With so much courage, so much pride
They’ll never come back, yet memories endure
To remind us of freedom: fragile, pure
We’re worthy of their sacrifice if we pause each day
Not just on the last Monday in May
©John T. Bird, copyright 2006 email@example.com (Lady Victoria Eclectic Pagan)