How to Observe Memorial Day

Thursday's Editorial   —   Posted on May 22, 2008

(from USMemorialDay.org) – The “Memorial” in Memorial Day has been ignored by too many of us who are beneficiaries of those who have given the ultimate sacrifice. Often we do not observe the day as it should be, a day where we actively remember our ancestors, our family members, our loved ones, our neighbors, and our friends who have given the ultimate sacrifice:

  • by visiting cemeteries and placing flags or flowers on the graves of our fallen heroes
  • by visiting memorials
  • by flying the U.S. Flag at half-staff until noon
  • by flying the ‘POW/MIA Flag’ as well (Section 1082 of the 1998 Defense Authorization Act)
  • by participating in a “National Moment of Remembrance“: at 3 p.m. to pause and think upon the true meaning of the day, and for Taps to be played
  • by renewing a pledge to aid the widows, widowers, and orphans of our falled dead, and to aid the disabled veterans

Also, please consider adding your voice in support of the efforts to restore the traditional day of observance of Memorial Day back to May 30th (instead of “the last Monday in May”). This would help greatly to return the solemn meaning back to the day, and to help return minds and hearts to think upon the ultimate sacrifices made by those in service to our country. Just one day out of the year to honor our loved ones, our ancestors, our friends who died in conflicts and wars — not to honor war, but those that died in those conflicts and wars.

I receive many emails from people expressing their thanks for those who have served and gave the ultimate sacrifice for this country. The following, received in 1999 and used with the author’s permission, sums up all the emails I have received very elegantly, and is true to the original spirit and meaning of Memorial Day.

“This weekend I am going to do something different. I am going to buy some carnations each day and go to one of the nearby cemetaries and walk through the sections for soldiers. When I find a grave that has no flowers, I’ll leave one and say a prayer for the family of that person, who for some reason could not bring their soldier flowers. I will pray for our country and all who serve or have served. For their families, who also serve by losing precious days, weeks and months spent with their loved ones who are off serving, preserving peace and the freedom we have in this country. I’ll pray for the families who paid the ultimate price, who’s loved ones died, or were taken captive and never returned. I’ll pray for anyone who may still be held in captivity and thinks perhaps they are forgotten. I do NOT forget.

I’ll say a prayer for every person on the Internet who takes a moment from their time to come to sites like yours and be reminded of what this holiday really means. And I’ll say a prayer of thanks and ask God’s richest blessings on you.

Thank you again…. and God bless!
Sylvia Mohr”

No, Thank you and God Bless you, Sylvia. May more follow your example.

In fact, wonderful people in other nations sometimes show more of the true spirit and mission of the U.S. Memorial Day than we do here. For example, a 2001 US Memorial Day Guestbook entry from a citizen of the Netherlands states:

“Hi,

In 1999 I laid flowers at the grave of a young U.S. fighter pilot who was KIA in my village in 1945. In the Netherlands I know of schools ‘adopting’ graves of Allied servicemen, keeping those graves in excellent condition ! Does anybody know of adopting graves in the U.S. by schools ?

Sincerely,
Paul Patist <
patist@wanadoo.nl>
Castricum, The Netherlands – Tue May 15 04:50:29 2001″

More schools in the U.S. could follow the lead of the Netherland schools. Let us take a few moments this Memorial Day to reflect on the meaning of the day, to observe the day and be mindful of the sacrifices of others before we go and enjoy the freedoms they bought for us.

Reprinted from usmemorialday.org/observe.htm. For educational purposes only.

Questions

1.  Why are the editors of USMemorialDay.org attempting to move the observance of Memorial Day to May 30th, from the last Monday in May?

2.  Do you support moving the observance of Memorial Day to May 30th?  Explain your answer.

3.  List the ways the commentator says we should observe Memorial Day.

4.  Do you currently do any of the activities from question #3?  Explain your answer.

5.  How has this commentary inspired you?


Resources

Read about US Army Staff Sgt Matt Maupin at mattmaupin.us and here.

Read about Memorial Day at memorialdayfoundation.org and usmemorialday.org.

Read about and listen to Taps at usmemorialday.org/taps.html.

Read more about the history of Taps at west-point.org/taps/Taps.html.

Have you ever read the Flanders Fields poem?  Have you ever given money to a veteran offering poppies at supermarkets or church?  Do you know how this tradition first began or what is done with the money collected?  For history of the poppies click here or go to the U.S. Dept. of Veterans Affairs website here.