Memorial Day is always a happy time in my household. The start of summer, my husband always has the day off, usually our first barbecue occurs and we make a trip down to the cemetery to plant flowers. I always call my sister early that day because I know she has a barbecue planned for her family that day too, and we swap menu ideas.
Of course Memorial Day has a much deeper meaning too. There is a reason Memorial Day has the word “memorial” in it. The very first Memorial Day was held May 30, 1868, and was an attempt to get our newly reunited nation together in honoring the lives of those who had died in the civil war, both north and south. Union General John A. Logan declared the day an occasion to decorate the graves of Civil War soldiers. It was called Decoration Day, and at around the turn of the twentieth century, 1900, the day was being called Memorial Day. But I can recall elderly members of the community referring to Decoration Day as late as the 1960s.
On May 11, 1950, Congress passed a resolution requesting that the President issue a proclamation calling on Americans to observe each Memorial Day as a day of prayer for permanent peace and designating a period on that day when the people of the United States might unite in prayer.
In 1971, I was a junior in high school when then President Nixon created the federal holiday called Memorial Day and the three day weekend signaled the unofficial beginning of summer.
Many families mark Memorial Day by visiting graveyards.
Vermont is known for having lots of its people willing to volunteer to serve the nation in times of crisis. As a result there are lots of veterans here. One of the things my family always does on Memorial Day is visit our family lot in Georgia Plain and plant flowers. Dad was a WW2 US Navy veteran. I don’t know who, but someone has been placing a small flag and military marker on his gravesite, and on the dozens of other graves of military veterans in the cemetery. My family is very grateful for that remembrance.
Please try to find a way your family can focus on the meaning of Memorial Day for part of the day Monday. Here are some ideas:
- There will be a parade honoring Veteran’s in Highgate at 1 pm.
- Put some flowers on the graves of men and women who served in wars. You’ll recognize their graves by the flags.
- Fly your U.S. flag at half-staff until noon.
- Visit monuments dedicated to soldiers, sailors and marines. The beautiful monument in Georgia is on route 7 in front of the town Clerk’s office.
- National Moment of Remembrance is scheduled at 3 p.m. local time. Remember in silence at this time.
We are such fortunate people to live in this country. Happy Memorial Day!
Rep. Carolyn Branagan
Vermont House of Representatives