This coming Monday we celebrate Memorial Day, a federal holiday that was originally called Decoration Day and traditionally marks the beginning of summer. It is a day to remember those who died in military service for our country as well as those who served our country and are now deceased. It is also day to decorate the gravestones of loved ones.
Just about every local town has a Memorial Day parade and I plan to be in one this year. Willshire’s Memorial Day Parade will begin at 9:30 a.m. Monday and area residents are invited to participate and carry photos of their family members who served in the military. I plan to carry my dad’s photo in Monday’s parade. The parade will walk to the Willshire Cemetery where a Memorial Day service will be held.
Speaking of Willshire, Willshire Home Furnishings has turned their store into a make-shift military museum again this year. They will have a display of over 160 military uniforms, plus photos, flags, maps, and letters from local servicemen on Saturday, Sunday, and Memorial Day from 9:00 a.m.-6:00 p.m. each day. It is a wonderful display and well worth the visit. My dad’s photo and Army jacket will be on display there.
Memorial Day began as a way to remember and honor both Union and Confederate soldiers who were killed in battle during the Civil War. In 1868 the 30th of May was officially proclaimed as the day to decorate their graves. After WWI Memorial Day was extended to honor Americans who died in all wars. Today most Americans use this holiday as a time to decorate grave sites, whether the deceased served in the military or not.
Memorial Day was declared a U.S. federal holiday in 1971 and is now observed the last Monday in May. In December 2000 the National Moment of Remembrance resolution was passed, which asks all Americans to pause at 3:00 p.m. local time and reflect on the meaning of Memorial Day.
Some things to do on Memorial Day:
- Take time to reflect on the meaning of Memorial Day and the sacrifices made for our freedom.
- Attend a Memorial Day Service at a local cemetery or park.
- Attend a local Memorial Day parade.
- Fly the American flag.
- Visit a cemetery and decorate a grave with flowers.
- Visit the Memorial Day Celebration museum at Willshire Home Furnishings.
Finally, remember to observe proper flag etiquette on Memorial Day:
- The American flag should be flown at half-staff until noon and then raised to full-staff.
- During a parade there may be several participants with a flag and it is appropriate to salute only the first flag as it passes by.
- As the first flag passes everyone should show respect by standing at attention with their right hand over their heart.
- Those in uniform should give their appropriate formal salute.
The past few months I have been transcribing and posting my dad’s WWII letters and photos. Here are a couple of photos of some of my dad and some of his friends from Zion Chatt who also served in WWII:
Have a nice Memorial Day weekend, everyone, and take some time to remember those who unselfishly served our country.