Memorial Day was created as a day to remember the soldiers, sailors and marines who died in this nation’s wars.
But it’s evolved over the years into a holiday featuring barbecues and department stores sales. And it marks the "unofficial" start of summer.
It seems ironic that we call it Memorial Day --a day to remember the sacrifice of our military men and women. And yet remembering this line of heroes who go back truly to the Revolutionary War seems of less importance than it used to be.
The holiday was originally known as Decoration Day. It was proclaimed by General John A. Logan of the Grand Army of the Republic in May of 1868. He said the purpose was “for strewing flowers, or otherwise decorating the graves of comrades who died in defense of their country during the late rebellion and whose bodies now lie in almost every city, village and hamlet churchyard in the land.”
New York was the first state to recognize the new holiday. And the day inspired generations of poets to pay tributes to the dead.
William Cullen Bryant wrote: “Ah! Never shall the land forget -- How gushed the life-blood of her brave…"
Henry Wadsworth Longfellow:
“Your silent tents of green
“We deck with fragrant flowers;
“Yours has the suffering been,
“The memory shall be ours.”
Maya Angelou: “How important it is for us to recognize and celebrate our heroes and she-roes!”
For some of us Memorial Day may not be memorable, yet the tiny flags posted on the graves of loved ones in countless cemeteries around the nation show the devotion many people have to their fallen loved ones.
Remembering is still important, for families and for the nation. The holiday is sacred---and it should involve us all.
For more Memorial Day information check NYC.Gov.