Not that my friend was trying to do me in, but after 50 minutes of Zumba class (my first visit to such fun), 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 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 these days”. You too may not have ever been told, but on Memorial Day, Americans went to the cemeteries and 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. As 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. They would always say, “You were born on Traditional Memorial Day.” But, as the government is known to do, they moved Memorial Day to the last Monday in May so that 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. 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 tomorrow. See you then.