Today, many Americans will honor fallen brethren from all wars throughout our country’s history.
The genesis for Memorial Day was back in 1868 when Gen. John Logan designated that May 30 be the official day of reconciliation to honor those who died during America’s Civil War.
Because Logan had proclaimed that flowers were to be placed on the graves of every Confederate and Union soldier interred at Arlington National Cemetery, initially the day became known nationally as “Decoration Day”.
Additional days of remembrance have been – and continue to be rightly – celebrated in some states including Jan. 19 in Texas, April 26 in Alabama, Florida, Georgia and Mississippi; and June 3 in Louisiana and Tennessee.
Through the first decades, sentiment grew to properly honor those who had died in service.
During World War I, Georgia native Moina Belle Michael “conceived the idea to wear red poppies on Memorial Day as a way to honor those who died serving the nation during war. Ms. Michael sold red poppies to friends and co-workers with the proceeds going to benefit servicemen in need.”
In 1922, the VFW became the first veterans’ organization to nationally sell red poppies.
Unfortunately, over the 88 years since, the level of Memorial Day observance, and indeed the focus on honoring those who gave the ultimate sacrifice for our country, has risen and fallen with what I will describe as the attitude of the times.
For example, in 1971 Congress decreed, by passage of the National Holiday Act (P.L. 90-363), that Memorial Day would be celebrated on “the last Monday of May.”
Why did Congress do that?
Politicians wanted to ensure a three-day weekend for federal employee holidays.
Want an example of the ebb and flow effects of the attitude of the times?
In 2004 Washington D.C. — our nation’s capital — held its first Memorial Day parade in over 60 years.
It’s time for a change.
We ought to celebrate and honor our fallen brethren not just on the last Monday of May but every day.
One way for patriotic Americans to reinstall original intent is to direct current and future representatives to Congress to promptly reinstate May 30th as Memorial Day.
It’s the right thing to do.
In the meantime and for all time, each one of us can choose to honor all our deserving forbears.
Join me each day to reflect on the words of Moina Belle Michael’s short 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.
May God Bless these United States; and, May God Bless all who have served – and are serving – our nation.
Richard Olivastro is president of Olivastro Communications, a professional member of the National Speakers Association, and founder of Citizens For Change (www.CFC.us). He can be reached via email: RichOlivastro@gmail.com ; telephone: 877.RichSpeaks.Checkout his blog: www.richardolivastro.com/blog