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Memorial Day falls on May 31st of this year, and what a day it promises to be! A holiday that has grown far beyond its original scope, Memorial Day is both a day of remembrance and a day of wonderful beginnings.  This is the start of the long summer days of relaxation and excitement. 


Schools prepare to close for the summer vacation.  Resorts are opening.  Beaches are back in business, as lifeguards return to their high observation perches.  Young girls in mini skirts and bikinis flaunt their warm weather figures proudly.   Festivals of all sorts are scheduled for towns across America.  Bar-B-Qs and hot dogs are in demand.

And everybody is happy, lounging in hammocks and sipping lemonade. 


After all, it’s Memorial Day!  But…let’s not forget that this holiday is something very special, far more than just a start to a long hot summer…






God Bless America pin

God Bless America pin


                                        A Day of Remembrance


Memorial Day was originally called Decoration Day. It was proclaimed by General John Logan, National Commander of the Grand Army of the Republic, as a day of remembrance for the fallen dead in the Civil War, and first observed on May 30, 1868. 


The South, however, held to its own day of remembrance and did not join the nation in commemorating its heroic dead until the National Holiday Act of 1971 was passed, setting the last Monday in May as Memorial Day, to honor all Americans who died fighting any war for our country. 


                                                The Parade


Parades are held in practically every town across the country on Memorial Day.  I remember the best one I ever saw.  It wasn’t a major exposition such as I was used to in New York City.  This was a small town parade in Montauk, New York, a quaint fishing village at the very end of Long Island. 


Here was the local high school band all dressed in finery showing how well they could play marching music.  And every important person in town, from the mayor to labor leaders, walked proudly along, smiling, waving, having a grand time.


Of course, the local veterans were there, some practically dancing along, the old in wheelchairs, the war-injured in special cars. Everyone applauded.  Everyone was so proud of them. Perhaps the highlight of the parade was the volunteer fire department, with all its men excitedly riding up the main street of town in a brand new, bright red fire engine.  Oh!  This was something to show off.  This was small town America at its best. 




  • 6” X 8” American flag on a stick.  Take it to the parade!




  • American flag, 34” X 61”.  Perfect for outdoor use.


                                                  A Pause


If you can, try to see a small town American Memorial Day parade yourself this year.  Bring an American flag on a stick to wave, put aside your smart phones, and bring your children or grandchildren with you.  These parades only last a little while, but they are so worth seeing!  Later in the Day, at 3 PM, don’t forget to just be silent and observe the National Moment of Remembrance.  It gives an emotional depth and meaning to the day.



At many cemeteries, Americans place flowers and small flags on the graves of their deceased loved ones.  Yes, this is a holiday of remembrance for war dead, but it has grown to cover all those Americans wish to commemorate. 

   –Some feel that has diminished the meaning of the day for war heroes, but most disagree.  It is still, first and foremost, a day on which we remember the wars we fought and the brave military men who died to keep us free. 


On the Thursday before Memorial Day, flags are placed on more than 260,000 gravestones in Arlington National Cemetery.  The President visits Arlington on the morning of Memorial Day, and places a wreath on the Grave of the Unknown Soldier.  

Most of those who visit there that day take a small detour and also visit the site of John F. Kennedy’s grave with its eternal flame. 


Many people wear a red poppy on Memorial Day.  The practice was started by  Moina Michaels, who also wrote her version of the poem “In Flanders Fields” in honor of the day:


                              “We cherish, too, the poppy red

                              That grows in fields where valor led,

                              It seems to signal to the skies

                              That blood of heroes never dies.”

Comments (0) Posted by Mary McGarry on Saturday, May 8th, 2010

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