“From the silence of sorrowful hours
The desolate mourners go,
Lovingly laden with flowers
Alike for the friend and the foe”
FRANCIS MILES FINCH
Every year I read of postings that people share about Memorial Day. There always seems to be some confusion about it. Memorial Day is a day set aside to honor those who died in wars. Although there is a lot of speculation about exactly when it began, most scholars think it started after the Civil War. It was originally known as Decoration Day. I can remember my grandparents calling it that when I was a wee one. It appears that refers to the placement of flowers on fallen soldiers’ graves.
According to National Geographic, after the Civil War, “in subsequent years women, especially in the South, began tending to the graves of fallen soldiers, often regardless of which side they fought for.” I would like to believe that this is true – given the deep divisions we have in our country now.
Regardless, I think of those who perished on Memorial Day. Especially those US Navy men who were my father’s friends with whom he served on the USS Oklahoma in World War II. And I am eternally grateful that he was not among them. But I know, through connecting with my new family, and hearing a lot of stories, that he carried grief and guilt with him the rest of his life.
I also think of all the ancestors who I’ve found through genealogy. I am eternally grateful that they survived – in the Revolutionary War, the War of 1812, the Civil War, the Spanish-American War, and World War II. Otherwise I would not be here typing away. I will celebrate their lives on Veteran’s Day – which honors those who made it through.
Just some thoughts for your Memorial Day “celebrations.”