Not that my friend was trying to do me in, but after 50 minutes of Zumba class, I was beginning to question her motives. My heart pounding and my lungs heaving, I somehow successfully managed to climb into her car for the ride home. Convinced I had just had a near death experience, I tried to remain calm but did not hide my agony. As we wound our way out of the club and onto the main drag, our chatting was suddenly interrupted by the realization that we had turned onto a beautifully flag lined main street that lead us all the way back to the freeway. “The beauty of small towns.” She quietly noted as we rolled past countless banners of waving Stars & Stripes. We knew the homage was due to the fact that it was Memorial Day weekend.
“They used to call it Decoration Day” I responded. “But few people are even aware of that nowadays. But that’s only because few of us have ever been told. You see, Memorial Day used to be a special time set aside for Americans to visit the cemeteries. While there, they decorated the graves of those who had given their lives in service to this country. My workout partner was surprised and saddened that she, too, had not ever been made aware of that fact.
I had been fortunate to learn that information early on. But there’s a reason for that. Memorial Day used to be celebrated only on May 30, and as that is my date of birth, each year my grandmother or mother would remind me of the holiday and it’s meaning. Which of course I loved. They would always say, “You were born on Traditional Memorial Day.” But, as the government is known to do, they powers that be moved Memorial Day to the last Monday in May so that federal folks could have a 3-day holiday. Within time, the true meaning was lost
So, I went to Wikipedia to see what they had to say. And here is what I found…
Memorial Day is a United States federal holiday observed on the last Monday of May (May 25 in 2009). Formerly known as Decoration Day, it commemorates U.S. men and women who died while in the military service. First enacted to honor Union soldiers of the American Civil War (it is celebrated near the day of reunification after the civil war), it was expanded after World War I to include American casualties of any war or military action
I’ll share more about the traditional observance of the day later this week. See you then