Your grandma might have called it Decoration Day. It was called Decoration Day because, in the immediate aftermath of the American Civil War, it was a day when the graves of soldiers were decorated in remembrance of their ultimate sacrifice while serving their country.
We call it Memorial Day now. That name was first used in 1882, but it did not become common until after World War II, and was not declared to be the official name of the day by Federal law until 1967.
(Memorial Day is not to be confused with Veterans Day, also known as Armistice Day. Memorial Day is a day of remembering the men and women who died while serving, while Veterans Day celebrates the service of all military personnel not currently serving. Armed Forces Day is a holiday to honor servicemen who are presently in the military.)
We are not so thankful for their sacrifices these days, I think, but we certainly ought to be. Our very freedom in these United States was won by -- and is defended daily by -- the blood of our servicemen and women.
In fact, our young people used to aspire to serve our country, like in this cartoon from around the year 1900.
| "On Decoration Day" Political cartoon. |
Caption: "You bet I'm goin' to be a soldier, too, like my Uncle David, when I grow up."
I wonder how many young people now even know they can serve.
Why not take a little ride today and decorate the grave of some soldier, known to you or not?