Over the decades, Memorial Day has evolved into a day for Americans to relax, recharge, and spend time with family and friends. We must remember, however, the reason we are able to enjoy our freedom on this special day. Onsite’s Dr. Daniel Bruzzini remembers and reflects on the importance of Memorial Day.
Memorial Day honors our military veterans who gave “the last full measure of devotion” fighting for our freedom. From our War of Independence to Operation Enduring Freedom in Afghanistan, brave men and women have answered and continue to answer the call to serve.
For as Plato so unfortunately noted, “Only the dead have seen the end of war.” Memorial Day grew out of Decoration Day, which called on people to remember the 620,000 Civil War soldiers who died. This is more than all Americans who died in World War I and II.
We believe the first Decoration Day remembrance was done in 1866 by former slaves, ministers, and the famed all-volunteer 54th Massachusetts Regiment. At the Washington Racecourse and Jockey Club in Charleston in South Carolina, they honored the 260 Union soldiers who died there during imprisonment.
Also in 1866, Decoration Day was celebrated in Waterloo, New York with businesses closing and graves being decorated with flowers and flags. General John A. Logan, by 1868, organized all the individual Decoration Day remembrances into a national day of remembrance to be held on the 30th of May because that was a day when no Civil War battles were fought. Finally in 1971, Congress renamed Decoration Day to Memorial Day, changed the date to the last Monday of the month of May, and declared it a federal holiday.
“It is the soldier, not the reporter, who has given us freedom of the press. It is the soldier, not the poet, who has given us freedom of speech. It is the soldier, not the campus organizer, who has given us the freedom to demonstrate. It is the soldier, who salutes the flag, who serves beneath the flag and whose coffin is draped by the flag, who allows the protester to burn the flag.” said the late U.S. Senator and Navy Admiral Jeremiah A. Denton.
All I can say is THANK YOU and pray that God continues to Bless America with courageous men and women willing to pay the ultimate sacrifice so “a new nation, conceived in Liberty, and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal…that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.”
As we head into Memorial Day weekend let us remember and honor all the brave men and women who paid the ultimate sacrifice for our freedom.