Decoration Day

This article has been posted before.  It has been received with a bit of skepticism over the origins of the day.  It is likely that the practice of decorating the graves of soldiers who died in the Civil War was taken up in many places during and immediately after the war, unknown to one another.  Some of these practices were reported in newspapers of the time, while others were passed down orally and written down later.  These later versions may have been supported by anecdotal evidence that is now hard, if not impossible, to prove.
Where exactly the practice of decorating graves started, and who should claim the origin is not really the point anymore, is it?  A tradition of decorating graves, and the meaning of the “holiday” are now largely lost.  This loss of historic knowledge, along with the loss of so many American soldiers, is the true sadness of the day.

Who will decorate the graves?

What bugs me most about our national holidays is that few people know what they are really about. It seems that we take it as some sort of extra vacation day and that we should all go out and have a party somewhere. The only exception to this might be Thanksgiving Day which remains on the traditional fourth Thursday of November. Most people gather with their families to give thanks at the dinner table. Of course, some are giving thanks that there are 3 football games on television and you can watch all day long. Even this tradition is starting to be eroded by commerce.

Other holidays are excuses for a party, 3 day weekend trip, backyard barbecue or attendance at a sporting event. If you ask someone of a younger generation the meaning of Thanksgiving, he might tell you it is the day we have football games in Detroit, Dallas and wherever the NFL will get ratings.  Christmas is when Santa comes, Easter is when the Easter Bunny comes, July 4th is when we shoot off fireworks and Labor Day is the end of summer so we should have one big old barbecue or party. The meaning of New Year’s Eve changed since Dick Clark no longer counts down the final seconds of the year and the NCAA destroyed New Year’s Day by moving most bowl games to other days.

When I went to search for Memorial Day online, I immediately got “Memorial Day sales.” That would probably be good if I needed a new mattress or backyard pool. I see news reports covering how Americans are hitting the road due to low gas prices. The cynic in me thinks the oil companies planned this to sell more gasoline. It also seems to be a good day for photo opportunities for politicians. They will lay wreathes at tombs of unknown soldiers, as long as there are cameras nearby. And the Washington DC website promotes the Rolling Thunder Motorcycle Rally along with events that seem a little more patriotic.

When I was young, my grandmother referred to this holiday as Decoration Day. On May 30th, the Memorial Day holiday then, we would usually go to the cemetery and decorate the graves with geraniums. Some cemeteries put small flags at the graves of those who served in the military. We were told this was the meaning of the holiday. I had no idea how close to the truth this was. After the American Civil War a date was set aside to decorate the graves of fallen Union soldiers. Southern women had already taken up the practice of decorating the graves of fallen confederate soldiers during the war. In the 20th century the day was dedicated to all Americans who paid the ultimate price in combat. Decorating graves could be symbolized by presidents laying a wreath at the tomb of unknown soldiers as there would be no one in particular to decorate those graves.

The official name was Decoration Day until Congress changed it to Memorial Day in 1967. In 1968 they took a bold step toward destroying its meaning, however, when they moved four holidays to Mondays. Now May 30th is not the holiday (although it will fall there some years) and Memorial Day has become part of an annual three-day vacation. We can be so caught up in the hoopla we forget what the day is all about. “What time do we meet?” “What shall I bring?” “What is the forecast?” “What time is the game?” “Decorate what? The backyard?”

My father is buried in a military section of a cemetery in another state. Although I can not be there, I know someone will decorate his grave and there will be a small American flag on each military grave. Taps will be played. That is the true essence of the day.

Related articles

Medellin, Colombia

The weather in Medellin is just about the same all year long.  Yes, there is a rainy season, but they get a lot of rain where they are at.  I have made two visits there and enjoyed the people and culture each time.

Click on any of the pictures and look through the larger versions.

For a short article on my trip to Medellin, head over to SERENDIPTY here.

WHAT ARE YOU DOING NEW YEAR’S EVE?

Now that Christmas is over, you must prepare for the next holiday just one week away.  So what are you doing?

The Jackpot Question, Rich Paschall, Sunday Night Blog   By now you are expected to have a good response. So what is it? What are you doing? Certainly your friends have been asking and you must have …

Source: WHAT ARE YOU DOING NEW YEAR’S EVE?

CHRISTMAS SONGS TO RETIRE

For three weeks in a row we have presented our favorite Christmas songs on SERENDIPITY, but here are a few we should really eliminate from airplay.

Strike them from the playlist, PLEASE! by Rich Paschall There are plenty of “Novelty” Christmas songs. As a matter of fact there are far too many. Some are amusing to the point of being…

Source: CHRISTMAS SONGS TO RETIRE

Decoration Day

When I first put up this article three years ago, I was surprised to receive some backlash over the meaning of the holiday we now know as Memorial Day.  The origins of Decoration Day were told to me as if there was a bit of a conspiracy over the years since the Civil War to change the day’s meaning.  It is likely that the same tradition grew up in many places around the same time. 

What bugs me most about our national holidays is that few people know what they are really about. It seems that we take it as some sort of extra vacation day and that we should all go out and have a party somewhere. The only exception to this might be Thanksgiving Day which remains on the traditional fourth Thursday of November. Most people gather with their families to give thanks at the dinner table. Of course, some are giving thanks that there are 3 football games on television and you can watch all day long. Even this tradition is starting to be eroded by commerce.

Other holidays are excuses for a party, 3 day weekend trip, backyard barbecue or attendance at a sporting event. If you ask someone of a younger generation the meaning of Thanksgiving, he might tell you it is the day we have football games in Detroit, Dallas and wherever the NFL will get ratings.  Christmas is when Santa comes, Easter is when the Easter Bunny comes, July 4th is when we shoot off fireworks and Labor Day is the end of summer so we should have one big old barbecue or party. The meaning of New Year’s Eve changed since Dick Clark no longer counts down the final seconds of the year and the NCAA destroyed New Year’s Day by moving most bowl games to other days.

When I went to search for Memorial Day online, I immediately got “Memorial Day sales.” That would probably be good if I needed a new mattress or backyard pool. I see the PBS Newshour was covering how Americans are hitting the road due to a drop in gas prices. The cynic in me thinks the oil companies planned this drop to sell more gasoline. It also seems to be a good day for photo opportunities for politicians. They will lay wreathes at tombs of unknown soldiers, as long as there are cameras nearby. The Washington DC website promotes the Rolling Thunder Motorcycle Rally along with events that seem a little more patriotic.

When I was young, my grandmother referred to this holiday as Decoration Day. On May 30th, the Memorial Day holiday then, we would usually go to the cemetery and decorate the graves with geraniums. Some cemeteries put small flags at the graves of those who served in the military. We were told this was the meaning of the holiday. I had no idea how close to the truth this was. After the American Civil War a date was set aside to decorate the graves of fallen Union soldiers. Southern women had already taken up the practice of decorating the graves of fallen confederate soldiers during the war. In the 20th century the day was dedicated to all Americans who paid the ultimate price in combat. Decorating graves could be symbolized by presidents laying a wreath at the tomb of unknown soldiers as there would be no one in particular to decorate those graves.

The official name was Decoration Day until Congress changed it to Memorial Day in 1967. In 1968 they took a bold step toward destroying its meaning, however, when they moved four holidays to Mondays. Now May 30th is not the holiday (although it will fall there some years) and Memorial Day has become part of an annual three-day vacation. We can be so caught up in the hoopla we forget what the day is all about. “What time do we meet?” “What shall I bring?” “What is the forecast?” “What time is the game?” “Decorate what? The backyard?”

My father is buried in a military section of a cemetery in another state. Although I can not be there, I know someone will decorate his grave and there will be a small American flag on each military grave. Taps will be played. That is the true essence of the day.

Related articles

Medellin, Colombia

Click on any of the pictures and look through the larger versions.

For a short article on my trip to Medellin, head over to SERENDIPTY here.

Decoration Day

When I first put up this article two years ago, I was surprised to receive some backlash over the meaning of the holiday we now know as Memorial Day.  The origins of Decoration Day were told to me as if there was a bit of a conspiracy over the years since the Civil War to change the day’s meaning.  I am convinced the meaning has changed, but I stand by the well documented historical facts concerning the Day.

What bugs me most about our national holidays is that few people know what they are really about. It seems that we take it as some sort of extra vacation day and that we should all go out and have a party somewhere. The only exception to this might be Thanksgiving Day which remains on the traditional fourth Thursday of November. Most people gather with their families to give thanks at the dinner table. Of course, some are giving thanks that there are 3 football games on television and you can watch all day long. At least families have gathered together.

Other holidays are excuses for a party, 3 day weekend trip, backyard barbecue or attendance at a sporting event. If you ask someone of a younger generation the meaning of Thanksgiving, he might tell you it is the day we have football games in Detroit, Dallas and wherever the NFL will get ratings.  Christmas is when Santa comes, Easter is when the Easter Bunny comes, July 4th is when we shoot off fireworks and Labor Day is the end of summer so we should have one big old barbecue or party. The meaning of New Year’s Eve changed since Dick Clark no longer counts down the final seconds of the year and the NCAA destroyed New Year’s Day by moving most bowl games to other days (probably a topic for some New Year’s blog).

When I went to search for Memorial Day online, I immediately got “Memorial Day sales.” That would probably be good if I needed a new mattress or backyard pool. I see the PBS Newshour was covering how Americans are hitting the road due to a drop in gas prices. The cynic in me thinks the oil companies planned this drop to sell more gasoline. It also seems to be a good day for photo opportunities for politicians. They will lay wreathes at tombs of unknown soldiers, as long as there are cameras nearby. The Washington DC website promotes the Rolling Thunder Motorcycle Rally along with events that seem a little more patriotic.

When I was young, my grandmother referred to this holiday as Decoration Day. On May 30th, the Memorial Day holiday then, we would usually go to the cemetery and decorate the graves with geraniums. Some cemeteries put small flags at the graves of those who served in the military. We were told this was the meaning of the holiday. I had no idea how close to the truth this was. After the American Civil War a date was set aside to decorate the graves of fallen Union soldiers. Southern ladies had already taken up the practice of decorating the graves of fallen confederate soldiers during the war. In the 20th century the day was dedicated to all Americans who paid the ultimate price in combat. Decorating graves could be symbolized by presidents laying a wreath at the tomb of unknown soldiers as there would be no one in particular to decorate those graves.

The official name was Decoration Day until Congress changed it to Memorial Day in 1967. In 1968 they took a bold step toward destroying its meaning, however, when they moved four holidays to Mondays. Now May 30th is not the holiday and Memorial Day has become part of an annual three-day vacation. We can be so caught up in the hoopla we forget what the day is all about. “What time do we meet?” “What shall I bring?” “What is the forecast?” “What time is the game?” “Decorate what? The backyard?”

My father is buried in a military section of a cemetery in another state. Although I can not be there, I know someone will decorate his grave and there will be a small American flag on each military grave. Taps will be played. That is the true essence of the day.

Related articles

Decoration Day

When I first put up this article last year at this time, I was surprised to receive some backlash over the meaning of the holiday we now know as Memorial Day.  The origins of Decoration Day were told to me as if there was a bit of a consipiracy over the years since the Civil War to change the day’s meaning.  There is no doubt that the meaning has changed, but I stand by the well documented historical facts concerning the Day.

What bugs me most about our national holidays is that few people know what they are really about. It seems that we take it as some sort of extra vacation day and we should all go out and have a party somewhere. The only exception to this might be Thanksgiving Day which remains on a Thursday. Most people gather with their families to give thanks at the dinner table. Of course, some are giving thanks that there are 3 football games on television and you can watch all day long. At least families have gathered together.
Other holidays are excuses for a party, 3 day weekend trip, backyard barbecue or attendance at a sporting event. If you ask someone of a younger generation the meaning of Thanksgiving, he might tell you it is the day we have football games in cities whose names start with the letter D (Detroit, Dallas and Denver). Christmas is when Santa comes, Easter is when the Easter Bunny comes, July 4th is when we shoot off fireworks and Labor Day is the end of summer so we should have one big old barbecue or party. The meaning of New Year’s Eve changes this year since Dick Clark will not count down the final seconds and the NCAA destroyed New Year’s Day by moving most bowl games to other days (probably a topic for some New Year’s blog).
When I went to search for Memorial Day online, I immediately got “Memorial Day sales.” That would probably be good if I needed a new mattress or backyard pool. I see the PBS Newshour was covering how Americans are hitting the road due to a drop in gas prices. The cynic in me thinks the oil companies planned this drop to sell more gasoline. It also seems to be a good day for photo opportunities for politicians. They will lay wreathes at tombs of unknown soldiers, as long as there are cameras nearby. The Washington DC website promotes the Rolling Thunder Motorcycle Rally along with events that seem a little more patriotic.
When I was young, my grandmother referred to this holiday as Decoration Day. On May 30th, the Memorial Day holiday then, we would usually go to the cemetery and decorate the graves with geraniums. Some cemeteries put small flags at the graves of those who served in the military. We were told this was the meaning of the holiday. I had no idea how close to the truth this was. After the American Civil War a date was set aside to decorate the graves of fallen Union soldiers. Southern ladies had already taken up the practice of decorating the graves of fallen confederate soldiers during the war. In the 20th century the day was dedicated to all Americans who paid the ultimate price in combat. Decorating graves could be symbolized by presidents laying a wreath at the tomb of unknown soldiers as there would be no one in particular to decorate those graves.
The official name was Decoration Day until Congress changed it to Memorial Day in 1967. In 1968 they took a bold step toward destroying its meaning, however, when they moved four holidays to Mondays. Now May 30th is not the holiday, Memorial Day has become part of an annual three-day vacation. We can be so caught up in the hoopla we forget what the day is all about. “What time do we meet?” “What shall I bring?” “What is the forecast?” “What time is the game?” “Decorate what? The backyard?”
My father is buried in a military section of a cemetery in another state. Although I can not be there, I know someone will decorate his grave and there will be a small American flag on each military grave. Taps will be played. That is the true essence of the day.

Related articles

It’s a miracle!

For me it is the power of a story that has lasted for 20 centuries that is the miracle of the day.  Billions world-wide are moved to go to a house of worship just to honor a story that has mesmerized the world since ancient times.  While sitting at the front of an old Catholic church one Sunday last year, I thought of the modern-day miracle I witness each year.  Here are those thoughts again.  Hit the link below:

It’s a miracle!.

Fighting loneliness, and the government

#christmas

#christmas (Photo credit: Isselmuden)

The holiday seasons bring ample opportunity for social activities.  Family and friends plan more gatherings than during the rest of the year.  Grandmas revel in the opportunity to bring together their children and grandchildren.  Cousins may delight in seeing their family friends of relatively the same generation.  Brothers and sisters will put aside differences as they gather around the Christmas tree.  It is a great time for families.

Friends find time for gatherings with their “extended families” and friends.  They may rent a bus and take all of their friends carolling to the houses of family and those they feel need a little cheer.  Favorite sports bars will decorate with great delight and the increased business their holiday parties will bring adds smiles to everyone.  School choirs will delight churches filled with people, while some choirs will visit hospitals and nursing homes.  There is so much to fill our hearts and souls as well as the hearts and souls of others.  Why then do so many people fight loneliness at the holidays?

Of course we may think it is only the homeless, the elderly, the poor and destitute that feel lonely at the holidays.  This is why social agencies and churches of all denominations try to reach out to those in need.  There will be Christmas dinners at local parishes.  People will volunteer to take hams and turkeys and other groceries to those in need.  Night ministries and local volunteers will try to find shelter and warmth for those in need.  People will drop extra coins into kettles or mail checks in response to charity pleas for assistance.  The efforts extended at the holidays can be greater than at any other time, but for many it is not enough.  The helping hand is not the answer.  A free turkey will not heal the soul.

Many poor and elderly are lonely all year round.  A hand at the holidays may lift the spirit for a few hours or even a few days.  It does not speak to the loneliness that creeps into the hearts of those who are truly alone.  Of course, the elderly person living alone and in poverty will smile when you ring the doorbell with a Christmas basket.  It is nearing the end of the month and his or her meager resources may be depleted.  Such a gift may help them get to the next month.  They know, however, that you will not be there with a gift next month, or the month after.  Their moment of happiness may indeed be darkened by the stark reality that can be held in a deep winter night.   A special meal helps, and for some it may help a lot, but it is not enough.

Even in these hard times we live in a land of plenty.  Some people with a few extra dollars to spend may feel delighted to drop it on a charity when they hear the Christmas bells ringing.  Snowflakes may put a twinkle in their eyes and a few dollars in the collection plate.  And next week?  Next month?  Charity is a necessity in this bleak economy, but so is faith and hope.  Without hope, charity is only a temporary salve on the wounds of the heart.  Without hope, we can lose faith.

While we lament the truly lamentable, our leaders, the ones to whom we entrusted our government, are busy figuring out at what levels we can preserve tax breaks for the rich.  They are considering how they can cut back on entitlement programs, you know, social security and medicare, while preserving their own better than outstanding retirement plans.  No congressman is saying, “Let us cut back our own retirements if we are going to trim or eliminate the increases for others.”  While Congress continues to wage war on the poor and middle class, the president is getting ready to compromise on “entitlements” and tax cuts.  While Speaker Boehner is ready to compromise on tax cuts for the super rich, the president is getting ready to compromise on the meager funds given to poor and elderly.  They will all tell us if we avert going over the “fiscal cliff”, that compromise is good government.  Good for whom?

For the New Year, we may consider adding desperate to the situations of those who are already poor and lonely.  Since we spent recklessly in good times and entered into wars of questionable merit, we must now punish those whose only reprieve from lonely and desperate, is the meager Social Security check they receive.  While the Speaker of the House sleeps a little uneasily for a night or two at the thought that a rich friend or two may have to pitch in an extra few bucks next year, he will undoubtedly not lose any sleep over the desperate situations of the poor and lonely.

The Salvation Army realizes that most of their funds come through Christmas season bell ringing at shopping centers and malls.  The Little Brothers of the Poor will find more volunteers now to visit elderly and bring gifts.  Local parishes will receive more donations of food so they can hold Christmas dinners.  Charities everywhere will be expected to fill the gap left by government cutbacks.  While our Republican and Tea Party friends enjoy their Christmas dinners and expensive wines, they have no idea what they are doing to the lonely in order to preserve lower taxes for the rich.English: U.S. President is greeted by Speaker ...

Note:  I realize I have painted Republicans with a broad stroke of greed.  Reports at present show that some are prepared to break ranks with their leaders in support of their constituents, but only a few.  I think the rest are saying something like, “bah, humbug.”  Perhaps they are not, maybe it is just “Thank you, Mr. President.”