There seems to be a lot of confusion over Memorial Day, so I made a trip to Wikipedia for a more contemporary definition.
Memorial Day is a federal holiday in the United States for remembering the people who died while serving in the country's armed forces. The holiday, which is observed every year on the last Monday of May, originated as Decoration Day after the American Civil War in 1868, when the Grand Army of the Republic, an organization of Union veterans founded in Decatur, Illinois, established it as a time for the nation to decorate the graves of the Union war dead with flowers. By the 20th century, competing Union and Confederate holiday traditions, celebrated on different days, had merged, and Memorial Day eventually extended to honor all Americans who died while in the military service. It typically marks the start of the summer vacation season, while Labor Day marks its end.
For me personally, it's always been a day where we honored all who served and are serving. Last year at this time, my Dad put on the veteran's baseball hat I bought him and wore it pretty much all day. Later he came over for a traditional Memorial Day barbecue and we talked a little about his army days and just had a typical family day to kick off the summer.
Almost two years ago I took Dad on Honor Flight, and we spent two days in D.C. visiting all the memorials with a bus load of his peers. I wrote about it in a blog post shortly after we got home. It was one of the most incredible experiences of my life and the last amazing memory he and I captured together. If you have a veteran in the family, click on the image above to find out more about Honor Flight.
So, while Dad may have passed away last November at 93, he served proudly with the "greatest generation". I'm starting the day out thinking about Dad and appreciating what his generation did for all of us, along with every member of the military who serves and risks their life today.
My holiday wish to everyone is a reminder to appreciate your family, enjoy the start of the summer and give thanks for everything you have - regardless of where on the planet you might be. The reality is, if you're able to read this post, you have a life that's significantly better than so many other people in the world.
Note: The flag from Dad's funeral was provided by the military, and there are too many people who aren't aware of this program. Military Honors for an eligible veteran are free of charge and mandated by law. If you're about to lose a loved one who served, here's a link for more information.
They sent an honor guard to Dad's funeral who played taps and presented us with the flag which, I have proudly displayed on top of a bookcase in my office. The two-man honor guard folded the flag and then handed it to us saying, "On behalf of the President of the United States and a grateful nation we thank you for your service."
Also, hospice here in Sarasota has a small veteran's program. A few days before Dad passed away they came to his room and did a short presentation thanking Dad for his service. It might not seem like a big deal, but at that moment in time, it was wonderful.
Check out "Why?" one of the most popular features on the SCU Blog. It's a very simple concept - one image, one artist and one short sound bite. Each artist shares what makes the image one of their most favorite. We're over 100 artists featured since the project started. Click on the link above and you can scroll through all of the episodes to date.