MEMORIAL DAY  2020
By Iride Aparicio

VET CEMENTARY

SILICON VALLEY -- Searching for the history of how MEMORIAL DAY was established, the U.S. Office of Public and Intergovernmental Affairs informed us that MEMORIAL DAY was established after the American Civil War ended, on May 5, l868. It was on that day, that Major General JOHN A. LOGAN, who was the head of an organization of Union Veterans --the Gran Army of the Republic -- (GAR), suggested to his members that the nation should decorate the graves of all those soldiers killed in wars, with flowers. He called the day the Decoration Day and suggested that it should be observed on May 30. (It is believed that the date was selected, because May was a month where flowers are in bloom all over the United States.

Cultural World Bilingual was also informed, that if we continue investigating, we would discover that there are other cities in the North states and the South states, of the United States that claim to be the birth place of Memorial Day. Three of them are Macon and Columbus GA, as well as Richmond VA, where the village of Boalsburg, claims it began there, because a stone in Carbondale, IL, cemetery even carries the statement that the first Decoration Day Ceremony took place there in l866. There are many others, especially in the South where most of the war dead was buried, who claimed the the honor.

According to the Public and intergovernmental Affairs Records, of the United States, however, the first 'official' MEMORIAL DAY was held on May 30, l868 at the ARLINGTON NATIONAL CEMETERY, (across the Potomac River in Washington D.C.)  With the ceremonies centered on the mourning-draped veranda of the Arlington Mansion, which was once the home of General ROBERT E. LEE. The ceremony was attended and presided  by various Washington officials including Gen. and Mrs. ULYSSES  S. GRANT.

The ceremony was simple. After the speeches, the orphan children from the soldiers and sailors and members of the GAR walked around the Cemetery and strew flowers on both the graves of the UNION and the CONFEDERATE soldiers as they recited prayers and sang hymns.

But again, according to records, tributes to the CIVIL WAR dead had already been held in other states, one of them in Columbus Miss. on April 25th l866, this time by a group of women who visited a Cemetery to decorate the graves of the Confederate Soldiers who had fallen in battle at SHILOH.  But According to the history, of this tribute, the graves of the soldiers of the North who fought for the UNION were ignored on purpose, because their graves were considered in the South to be the graves of the "enemy."

In l966, President LYNDON JOHNSON declared Waterloo, N.Y. the Birthplace of Memorial Day, since it was there on May 5, l866 where the local veterans who fought in the Civil War were honored. A few years later, By an Act of Congress signed in l971, Memorial Day was expanded to honor those who have died in all the American WARS, and declared a National Holiday dedicated to honor the memory of those who gave their lives so that we could be free. The date moved to the Last weekend in May.

No records are written as to when the three-day weekend of MEMORIAL DAY, became the days when Americans had Picnics, went places had BBQ's, on their back yards, and most stores offer "Sales" and "specials. When " The weekend of "remembrance" became a celebration.

When did all of us forget our Superheroes in MEMORIAL DAY? When did we stopped remembering those who died for us?  Forgot that every one of those small waving American flags standing next to the tombs in the Military cemeteries, stand for a soldier who died in one of our Wars? That those men and women buried there were the sons, the fathers, the  husbands,  the brothers,  the friends, the sisters, the daughters, of people like you and I, who either volunteer or were drafted to join the Armed Forces and as soldiers taken far away from home and sent to a battle field, to fight to secure the freedoms we now have?

As the years passed, we seem to have forgotten that. To the point that that on MEMORIAL DAY 2020, most American stopped displaying the American flag on their honor from the front laws of houses as we did before.

Flag on House

This year, with a pandemic, many of us are experiencing. as a nation, the fear of death. So, let us remember that those we honor of MEMORIAL DAY experienced the same fear, but in in a different way: in the sounds of ricochetting bullets, exploding bombs, battles, perhaps while holding other soldiers bleeding and dying on their arms.

Those are the men and women we honor on MEMORIAL DAY. Those whose lives were cut short by a bullet, and are now a name on a tombstone or on a wall. We all need to remind them that we have not forgotten them. That they did not die in vain. So, on this MEMORIAL DAY 2020, remember them, in your prayers, with a flower over their tombs or in front of their photograph. Give them thanks and honor their memories by flying a flag.