The Real Estate Encyclopedia
In Remembrance of Courage
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One day a year, on the last Monday in May, you can put your hand on the heart of America. Patriotic songs reverberate across the land, as we hold observances to commemorate service men and women who selflessly gave their lives during wartime. In 1971, Congress declared Memorial Day a national holiday to pay tribute to Americaís casualties of war, and to acknowledge the sacrifices of widows, widowers, and children whose lives were forever changed by the loss of a loved one. This year we will also celebrate the 60 th anniversary of the battle for Iwo Jima, where the Stars and Stripes was raised in a symbol of valor and victory. Many will visit the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier in Philadelphia, PA.

The onset of this three-day weekend jumpstarts summer activities with a splash as City Parks and Recreation pools open. It also marks the end of the school year, and shopping for that Beaded-Butterfly-Halter-Gown and ill-fitting tuxes for the Prom. Holiday blowout events and tent-sales are everywhere, and we have the Indianapolis 500 to look forward to. Women may now "officially" wear white. There are motorcycle rallies, and picnics in the park, where the smoke of barbecuing chicken drifts out onto the softball field, and kids romp on the thick carpet of grass. Excitement permeates our society.

Hotel deals abound, and some spend their weekend someplace special, frolicking in the sun and sand, or golfing by the sea. Others have packed their gear, loaded two cases of beer, and hooked up the boat for a weekend of camping and fishing. For the bass fisher, that early morning cast of a topwater lure onto some glassy lake promises to make the six-hour drive, contending with quarreling children and an exasperated wife, all well worth it. Many families anticipate attending all-weekend festivals chock-full of entertainment; craft and food booths, carnivals, petting zoos, and live music. There are bound to be a few events scheduled for your area; check the local paper to see whatís happening. But this Memorial Day, before we dash off to enjoy our leisure activities, let's take a moment to remember why everyone has the day off.

History

Originally called "Decoration Day", following the bloodiest combat of all of our wars, the Civil War, women's groups began placing flowers on the headstones of Civil War soldiers. Each year more and more people joined in remembering our ancestors who were killed in battle. By the end of World War I, going back to the American Revolution, observances were changed to honor the dead in all American wars.

Back in 1856, in the small town of Waterloo, New York, townspeople decorated headstones, flew flags at half-mast, and marched in parades. Many would attend services at their church, where refrains from 1860's war laments could be heard and sung in unison. Words and melodies from beloved old hymns such as "Onward Christian Soldiers" and "Battle Hymn of the Republic" were a comfort to many. Later in the day everyone would meet at the cemetery where a contingent of proud veterans, (those who could still squeeze into their old uniforms), stood in obeisance. A band would play "Taps" and a wreath would be laid. Next sounded the rifle volleys, then buglers with their bugles. The flag was then ceremoniously retired.

Now, over a century since the people of Waterloo first mourned those who died in battle, our country finds itself again engaged in battle, and many men and women soldiers will be upholding our freedom as we honor their service and the sacrifices of their forebears.

Although often a day of wonderful activities, Memorial Day is first and foremost an occasion to pay tribute to the courage of our slain and wounded. Because of them, freedom reigns supreme throughout our homeland. This Memorial Day, before or after all the activities, letís take a moment to light a candle, or sit for a moment of thoughtful silence, that we may have reason to remember, honor, grieve, and heal.

-Veryl Mullins





References


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