Memorial Day. The unofficial first day of summer. The first major three-day weekend. A time for picnics, barbecues, family get-togethers, and the 5th or so deadliest holiday for alcohol-related traffic fatalities. Big 'ol national party, right?
Memorial Day was originally called Decoration Day, and was conceived to honor the patriots who gave their lives in the Civil War. It was officially proclaimed on May 5, 1868 by General John Logan in his General Order No. 11, and was first observed officially on May 30, 1868. By 1860 it was recognized by all northern states, although the much of the south continued to honor their dead separately until after World War I (several southern states still observe a separate holiday for their Civil War fatalities). In 1882 the name was officially changed to Memorial Day and the holiday was altered to honor all military who died in wars.
In 1971 the official observance of Memorial Day was changed to the last Monday in May to assure a three-day holiday for Federal employees. Hence our first major weekend of the summer.
So we spend this day of memorializing our wartime dead partying?
Okay, I can go with that. Without the sacrifice of service persons through our short history we might not have the freedom to spend a long weekend with our families, watch dad try to take off his eyebrows with the grill for the first time of the summer, or watch our kids chase each other through the sprinkler.
But please, remember.
Whether or not you agree with the philosophy behind the action in which our service persons perished, they died for the fundamental purpose of protecting freedoms. Ours, others, it doesn't matter where; they served and gave their lives for freedom. And just by serving all service people show their willingness to put their lives on the line for freedom.
Roughly 1,705,000 American persons have died in military action since the American Revolution.
Remember. As you watch your kids play in the sun, eat the hot dog that fell on the coals, and try once again to get your Aunt's secret potato salad recipe, remember.
And laugh, and love, and enjoy your time together.