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.