Friday, May 28, 2010

They May Play "Taps"

In my childhood, Memorial Day was observed on May 30, no matter what day of the week. Now, in the interest of a long three-day weekend to begin the summer, it is the last Monday in May. Originally called Decoration Day, it was to remember those who have died in our nation's service. Before the end of the Civil War, groups of women in the South organized and decorated the graves of their fallen. Union Army General John Logan ordered Memorial Day observance on May 30, 1868, when flowers were placed on the graves of Union and Confederate soldiers at Arlington National Cemetery, a commemoration continued there today with small American flags at each of the more than 260,000 Arlington burial sites. Several southern states still have an additional separate day for honoring the Confederate war dead.

Memorial Day 2010, Monday, there will be ceremonies at the final resting places of those who gave what Lincoln called, the "last full measure." Drop by one near you. They may play "Taps." Take a handkerchief, just in case. Other celebrations include picnics, barbecues, family gatherings, and sporting events, such as baseball double-headers, and the Indianapolis 500. Heavy highway vacation driving usually begins on Memorial Day weekend, as do nationwide "Click It or Ticket" campaigns. Watch for rising gasoline prices and alert Highway Patrol vehicles. Some feel that when Congress lumped Memorial Day into a three-day weekend, the special significance of Memorial Day was diluted. “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," according to the Veterans of Foreign Wars. Hawaii Sen. Daniel Inouye, a decorated World War II veteran, who lost his arm in combat in Italy, has introduced legislation repeatedly since 1987 to return Memorial Day to its traditional day.

Some people confuse Memorial Day, which remembers those who have died in U.S. military service, with Veterans Day, which honors all those who have served the U.S. in the military. The total number who have died in service to their country is much smaller than the total number of those who have served. This is a significant recruitment tool. Without wishing to side with confusion, I can not help but think of the recent loss of 11 oil riggers at the Deepwater Horizon explosion off the Florida-Alabama-Mississippi-Louisiana-Texas Gulf Coast, where BP, at minimum, ignored Murphy's law. Also the 25 coal miners who died from a huge explosion at a Massey Energy mine in Raleigh County, West Virginia. Who keeps memorial for those who fall as cannon fodder for fossil fuels? You just have to draw the line somewhere.

1 comment:

Tina said...

There are too many wicked old power-grabbers who are willing to send innocent young men to die over territory, resources, and even....of all things...religion, the one thing that ought to make people peaceful.


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