Today is MEMORIAL DAY. For most, this is the "official" start of the summer season, and is a day off from work, have a cookout, go on vacation, or any number of other things. There is certainly nothing wrong with these activities in their proper place. The real meaning of Memorial Day has largely been lost. For most Americans, it's just a day of celebrating the start of the summer vacation season. Observing Memorial Day on the last Monday of May to create a three-day weekend instead of on May 30th has led to the departure from the its real meaning. A VFW Memorial Day address of 2002 states it very well:
"Changing the date merely to create three-day weekends has undermined the very meaning of the day. No doubt, this has contributed greatly to the general public's nonchalant observance of Memorial Day."
Memorial Day was originally known as DECORATION DAY. It was a day that businesses were closed. Many towns had parades that usually ended at a cemetary. People took the time to clean the graves of our fallen heroes and place flags on them. The flag was flown at half-mast until noon. This is largely not done now, and the real meaning is forgotten. I think making it a Monday holiday has made it very easy to see as just another day off from work, a long weekend, or a vacation week.
Senator Daniel Inouye, D-Hawaii, introduced a bill on March 17, 1989 to restore the Memorial Day observance back to May 30th. He stands alone and reintroduces the bill at every new Congress which is every two years. Senator Inouye most recently introduced the bill January 4, 2007 as S 70 to the Senate. There are no co-sponsors. The bill was referred to the Committee on the Judiciary on the same day it was read. Of course, there has been no further action. Senator Inouye's opening remarks when he introduced the bill says it all:
"Mr. President, in our effort to accommodate many Americans by making the last Monday in May, Memorial Day, we have lost sight of the significance of this day to our nation. Instead of using Memorial Day as a time to honor and reflect on the sacrifices made by Americans in combat, many Americans use the day as a celebration of the beginning of summer. My bill would restore Memorial Day to May 30 and authorize our flag to fly at half mast on that day. In addition, this legislation would authorize the President to issue a proclamation designating Memorial Day and Veterans Day as days for prayer and ceremonies honoring American veterans. This legislation would help restore the recognition our veterans deserve for the sacrifices they have made on behalf of our nation." (1999 Congressional Record, page S621)
A little background: Senator Inouye is a World War II combat veteran who received the Distinguished Service Cross. This was later upgraded to the Medal of Honor. Senator Inouye's biography can be read HERE.
I think the Moment of Remembrance at 3:00 p.m. that was started in 2001 is a good start to getting back to the observance of Memorial Day as it should be. Memorial Day is one of the most important observances we have in America, because so many have fought and died and continue to fight and die for our freedom and security. You and I are safe and secure because of the sacrifices made by our military. Whether or not they see combat does not matter. The general public has no idea how great a sacrifice it is from the time the dotted line is signed. There is no such thing as an insignificant job in our Armed Forces. Every job that every person serving has is important to our national security and the defense of freedom. I don't care what their job is, I am grateful and deeply indebted to them all.
Thank you to all who are serving, and have served defending freedom. I have said it many times in this journal or commenting in others' journals, and I'll say it again: This is a debt that can never be repaid. I am one American that is very proud of each and every one of you, no matter what you, no matter where you are. THANK YOU AND GOD BLESS YOU!!!
Please take a moment at 3:00 p.m. today to remember and reflect on those who have sacrificed so much. If not today, please do so on the traditional Memorial Day of May 30th, and don't forget to thank a veteran. I thank every serviceman or servicewoman I see in passing. They really do appreciate gratitude. It's precious little for all they do.
ha"Changing the date merely to create three-day weekends has undermined the very meaning of the day. No doubt, this has contributed greatly to the general public's nonchalant observance of Memorial Day." nging the date merely to create three-day weekends has undermined the very meaning of the day. No doubt, this has contributed greatly to the general public's nonchalant observance of Memorial Day." -- VFW 2002 Memorial Day address