Monday, May 30, 2011

Memorial Day In America


Veteran's Day, on November 11th, is when we remember all  soldiers of all wars  all over the world and dwell on the sadness and futility of war.

Memorial Day is something different.  It is when we come together as Americans to remember our own fallen troops.  It started after the Civil War-- a war which tore families apart and killed an entire generation of young American men as brother fought brother over" States Rights"  and the Abolition of Slavery"

What is now Memorial Day started  in the late 1860's, right after the end of the Civil War.  Families who had lost sons, brothers, husbands and fathers went to the cemetery  and placed flowers and flags not just on the graves of their own dead, but also on the graves of enemy soldiers buried there.  This was done first at Arlington National Cemetery and then replicated around the nation in both North and South.  It was a healing gesture that had great significance at the time and formed the basis for our national Memorial Day holiday.

Most Americans have forgotten the origins of Memorial Day. These days it is a long week-end holiday on the last Monday in May which marks the start of summer.  Beaches, parks and summer resorts officially open and stores offer super sales on summer merchandise.  It's a day for beer and backyard Bar-b-que and perhaps a traditional Memorial Day parade the purpose of which has long been forgotten.

Pity....because the wounds of that great civil war are far from healed.  It is easy to scrape a scab off of rancor and racism  and remembering that war, the one that really made us one nation, indivisible, is important. 

In the heat of our passionate political actions and debates, we Americans need to remember the widows and orphans of the Union and the Confederacy, who after the war,  placed flowers on the graves of  ALL  the fallen soldiers to help bring victor and vanquished together and make us one nation.

Let us not forget the power of forgiveness and the fact  that the motto of our country is " E  Pluibus Unum  ( Out of Many, One)

Happy Memorial Day everybody. 


JamaGenie said...

A lovely piece, ppr, but the Civil War is not the first where widows of the fallen on one side placed flowers on the graves of soldiers from the other side. It also happened during and after the Revolutionary War when it was not uncommon for one brother to be fighting for America's independence while another remained loyal to the Crown and wore the uniform of the British Army.

pinkpackrat said...

Did not know that Jama--thanks for the heads up--makes all the sadder that today's celebration is a blow out sale at the local mall:-)