Let’s first review the history of how this holiday came to be what it is today: a three-day holiday (Saturday-Sunday-Monday). The Federal Government, during 1971, gave its federal government employees this three-day holiday which includes and celebrates the last Monday during the month of May as Memorial Day.
Memorial Day was formerly called Decoration Day since May 1868. Now it is a federal holiday in USA for remembering all those persons who died while serving in this country’s military forces. This holiday, which is now observed every year on the last Monday of May, will be held on Monday, May 28, 2018.
It was first known as “Decoration Day” because after the 1865 end of the Civil War, during which this American nation lost 600,000 lives (counting both ‘The North’ and ‘The Confederate South’s casualties). All communities had their local war dead. One New York community closed its businesses in order to honor its dead by decorating with flags & flowers each grave after ‘cleaning it up’.
General John A. Logan encouraged the entire nation to do the same on May 30, 1868. Some 5,000 widows, family members, and others decorated the 20,000 graves of both Northern and Confederate soldiers interred at Arlington National Cemetery.
After World War I, during which 130,000 American military personnel were killed, America honored these dead with its Unknown Soldier Monument of 192l. World War II followed with its 416,800 KIA’s. More wars followed: Korean Conflict, Vietnam (55,000 KIA’s), Desert Storm, Iraq, and today, after 16 years, America is still at war against Terrorists in the Mid-East.
“Every day, memories of World War II—its sights and sounds, its terrors and triumphs—disappear. Yielding to the inalterable process of aging, the men and women who fought and won the great conflict are now in their late 80s and 90s. They are dying quickly—according to US Department of Veterans Affairs statistics, 558,000 of the 16 million Americans who served in World War II are alive in 2017.” (Source: World War II Museum, New Orleans, LA.)
Each year on Memorial Day a national moment of remembrance takes place at 3:00 p.m. local time.
It is unclear where exactly this tradition originated. Numerous different communities may have independently initiated their memorial remembrance gatherings.
It was on May 5, 1868 when General John A. Logan, leader of an organization for Northern Civil War veterans, called for a nationwide DECORATIOON DAY of remembrance later that month. “The 30th of May, 1868, was 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 (Civil War) rebellion, and whose bodies now lie in almost every city, village and hamlet churchyard in the land,” he proclaimed.
So, at 3:00 PM, Monday, May 28, 2018, (this year’s MEMORIAL DAY), I plan to ask the guests at our home to take a minute of silence during which each remembers and meditates about a ‘fallen military person’ they cared for and knew personally. In my own family I have two brothers (WW II veterans) who are now dead…Seville and Andrew may not have been ‘KIA’S (KILLED IN ACTIN), but both experienced front line combat which changed their persona. We all know someone with that outcome. We need to honor not only our KIA’s but also those who survived and came home as WOUNDED WARRIORS, changed forever.
Consider this reality: Most elected officials are over the age of 45. It is these ‘elderly elected officials’, many of whom have never served in any military capacity (just like Mr. Trump and other former Presidents), who ‘send our military personnel ‘off to war’. All elected U.S. Congress persons end up being ‘wealthy’ or well off. It is the sons and daughters of lower income folks who volunteer, as I did in 1946, for military service as a ‘gate-opener’ to future opportunity. It is these young military volunteers who end up being wounded warriors or KIA’s. As these service persons age, their initial retirement income levels become insufficient while health concerns related to aging increase. A requirement for assisted care or just companionship increases. These essential services are usually provided for by their wives, sons and daughters or other concerned compassionate individuals. I bring this issue up because the Veteran’s Administration officials have just proposed a bill in the U.S. Congress which would provide support and monetary allowances to these providers of “in the home care”. Those who are related to an elderly veteran who needs assistance or companionship are providing a service which would have been delivered by ‘a paid attendant’ in an assisted care facility or nursing home. This bill merits your support. Simply call your local member of U.S. Congress to say that you support this ‘Assisted Care for Veterans’ legislation. If these veterans, now being maintained and assisted in their homes were in a Veteran’s Administration Hospital, there would be a great need for more V.A. hospital facilities and more trained ‘elderly-care personnel’ on their payrolls. Phone local members of the U.S. Congress such as Anna Eshoo, Zoe Lofgren, and Ro Khanna. First look up under ‘Government’ in your phone book to learn who your local U.S. Congressional representative may be. Know that your phone calls or Emails will result in some sort of responsible action.
Personally, as a WW II veteran, I personally have outlived all my former high school chums and military buddies. I am fortunate in that my daughter Maria Socorro, checks in on me and my wife every two days or so. She is planning a Memorial Day BBQ at my home. I plan to ask our 14 guests at 3:00 PM PST to pray and meditate in silence about some former KIA military person they knew and include someone ‘who came back as a WOUNDED WARRIOR’.
‘WE, THE PEOPLE’ must give thanks to and appreciate those who made it possible for each of us to live in a nation that allows its citizens and residents to ‘pursue life while having liberty and the many government agency services which our taxes underwrite. We all enjoy a standard of living which has been paid for by the lives, blood, sweat, and tears of our antecedents. And, since its formation, America has been a very diversely populated nation. Its democratic form of governance needs our urgent support today to ensure its realignment with truths, facts, and equitable distribution of its wealth in whose creation we all have participated. I do not believe that Divine Providence meant for just a few oligarchists to own everything and enjoy life while depriving the rest of us of some fair measure of the same.
ENJOY YOUR MEMORIAL DAY HOLIDAY. At 3:00 PM, do remember to honor those who made it possible. It would be a good gesture to give our KIA’s and Wounded Warriors one minute of silent appreciative and thankful meditation and prayer. Let’s make MEMORIAL DAY more than just a 3-day holiday.