In Memoriam

Memorial Day (also known as Decoration Day) is a federal holiday in the United States for remembering the people who died while serving in the country’s armed forces.

Memorial Day has been observed on the last Monday of May since 1971; before then the holiday was held on May 30 from 1868 to 1970.

It wasn’t until after World War I that Memorial Day was expanded to honor all veterans who died in any American war.

Memorial Day marks the unofficial start of the summer vacation season (Labor Day, the first Monday of September, marks its end).

Memorial Day is slightly more likely to fall on May 25th, 28th or 30th than on May 26th, 27th, 29th or 31st.

Many people visit cemeteries and memorials, particularly to honor those who have died in military service.  Many volunteers place an American flag on each grave in national cemeteries.

Memorial Day is not the same as Veterans Day (November 11), the day America celebrates the service of all U.S. military veterans.

Memorial Day 1946 fell on a Thursday.  My parents married each other on that Thursday, about a year after Victory in Europe (VE) Day, celebrated on May 8, 1945.

My dad served in World War II with United States Army as a radio operator stationed in the Philippines.

I think all Americans recognize that we owe a huge debt of gratitude and appreciation to the families of the men and women of our military services, especially to those whose sons and daughters, fathers and mothers made the ultimate sacrifice defending and protecting this great country.

I am very grateful for the men and women who serve in our armed forces.  I had the honor of having a young man as a student in my World Religions class back in the fall of 2010; he had just completed a two-year Army hitch in Afghanistan.  One time after class, we rode the same bus home to our respective apartments.  He talked about some of the atrocities he witnessed while serving there – not in any great detail, mind you, but enough to let me know that the experience left him with a sadness that obliterated every last vestige of innocence.

In memory of all those brave men and women who made the ultimate sacrifice, whether you’re conservative or liberal, Democrat or Republican, of any religion or of no religion, I ask you take a moment today to remember the families of those who sacrificed everything for us.  Thank you.

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