Sunday, May 24, 2015

Memorial Day

I used to think Memorial Day was a holiday recognizing the contributions of veterans, but I
later learned it is a special day that pays tribute to those who gave their lives in service to our country.

In the beginning, it was called Decoration Day. I read where people who lived near Civil War battlefields would scatter flowers across the land where both Union and Confederate troops had died.

The bloodiest battle of that war was at Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, where over the course of three days, there were an estimated 50,000 casualties. That’s close to the population here in Walker County.

Try for a moment to wrap your mind around that one number. In less than 72 hours, 50,000 men died or were gravely wounded. Communities across the North and South lost sons, fathers, and brothers. Hopes and dreams were dashed forever.

Not long after the end of the war, those who survived began the unofficial holiday, which came to be known as Decoration Day.

As you know, the bloodshed didn’t end with the Civil War. Our country has been engaged in conflict many times over the course of history. WWI, WWII, Korea, Vietnam, Iraq and Afghanistan all of which came with a hefty price tag that was paid with the blood of men and women who signed up to serve our country.

Decoration Day evolved into Memorial Day and in the 20th century grew to honor all men and women who died in service to our country. The federal holiday is observed on the last Monday of May.

It’s hard to find a family that has not been touched by war. There were pictures in my mother’s family album of her brother Marvin Lee Ferguson. He was a carefree kid seeing the world from the deck of the USS California, which was a Navy battleship.

He was in the Pacific in 1941 about to celebrate Christmas in Hawaii, but on December 7 of that year, the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor. In less than two hours, 2500 people had died, one of which was Uncle Marvin Lee who died before WWII officially began. Now his picture is in family albums, and the local VFW hall is named in his honor.

Every Memorial Day I think of my Uncle Marvin Lee and I wonder what kind of man he would have become had he not died on that sunny Sunday in Hawaii.

These days, Memorial Day is recognized as the first holiday of summer and people spend the day eating barbecue, drinking sweet tea, and preparing for upcoming summer vacations.

Jilda and I plan to fire up the grill and blaze some ribs for a group of family and friends. And when we say the blessing, you can be sure we will remember those who picked up the tab.

10 comments:

  1. And a very large tab it has been!

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  2. One should always remember the people who suffered through the war and gave their lives. We have ours on Nov. 11th but I am glad it is honoured on this day as well.

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  3. A very good explanation and also tribute to those who gave all. Thanks. Great read.

    You guys have a great time,

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  4. My father put great store in Decoration Day. He was a Navy veteran of WWII. One of my brothers served in Korea during the late 60's. It is still an active war zone. Another brother was killed in Viet Nam. My father was so proud and so heart-broken at the same time. I spend some time each year on Memorial Day to remember them and all the others from my family as well as the rest who served, both those who came home and those who did not.

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  5. Hope you enjoy your Memorial Day. Thanks to all those that lost life so that we can enjoy it.

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  6. Memorial day is definitely a day for being grateful for so many people who sacrificed their lives.... we hold our day on November 11th which is Remberance Day... I feel gratitude for all those people ...

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  7. Remember them ALWAYS!!

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  8. Thanks. Excellent post.

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  9. Memorial Day/ Anzac Day/ Remembrance Day doesn't matter what it is called these days are important we should never forget those who served their country

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  10. Never forget and always be so grateful to those Heroes. I can't imagine war in our own country...neighbor against neighbor and in some cases brother against brother. I didn't realize we were to pause at 3pm on Memorial Day for a minute of silence for those who gave their life for our Country. Thanks again for your service for us...and this wonderful post. We too had a rib cookout....No North and South battle here!

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