Decoration Day is the old name for Memorial Day. Bet you didn’t know that. It was originally created to thank those who died in the Civil War, but after World War I, it was changed to celebrating the lives and sacrifices of any American who died fighting in any war. The American flag is flown at half-staff for the first half of the day, recognizing the sacrifices of over one million of our brothers and sisters. At noon their memory is raised by the living, who resolve not to let their sacrifice be in vain, but to rise up in their stead and continue the fight for liberty and justice for all. Moina Michael wrote a poem:
We cherish too, the Poppy red
That grows on fields where valor led,
It seems to signal to the skies
That blood of heroes never dies.
Because of this, poppies are worn on Memorial Day in honor of our fallen heroes. She was the first to wear one, and then sold them to friends, family, and strangers to raise money for servicemen.
My challenge for all of you: take at least part of the day off you’re given and give it to one of the people who are the reason we get the day off. Volunteer at your local USO, VFW, VA hospital, or other veteran- or military-related organization. Have your kids make a card to send overseas or to someone laying in a VA hospital, far from their friends and family. If you can’t make time for that, make time to say thank you to someone who is currently serving or to the families of those who won’t be coming home.
This weekend is supposed to be for remembering those who gave their lives for our freedom, those who protected our right to live the way we live, those who gave their all for you and me. It’s not about bar-b-ques, it’s not about the lake, it’s not about getting as drunk as you can. It’s about them. So spend your weekend partying, but on Monday, take the time to do something for those who lost their lives so that you may live the way you wish, without fear of repercussion or prosecution.