Laura Haley-McNeil

5/27/18, Memorial Day

Hello, Everyone!

Tomorrow is Memorial Day which for many of us is wonderful because it means an extra day off from work and a day to spend with family and friends and enjoy nice weather and maybe a barbeque. It’s also a day to honor those who gave the ultimate sacrifice for the rest of us. The older I get the more I understand the significance of this. Freedom isn’t free. It comes with a price. Commemorating the fallen originally started in the south following the Civil War and was called Decoration Day though northern cities and towns honored their dead in similar fashion. Mourners, primarily women, decorated the graves of those who lost their lives during this war with flowers. 600,000 men lost their lives during this war, a tragedy that ripped our country apart. By 1882, the name of this day of observance was changed to Memorial Day.

Though I had ancestors from my mother’s side of the family who lived in the south during this time, they were poor and didn’t believe in the war so the patriarch of the family, my great-great grandfather, moved his family of 10 boys away from the south and settled in the Wild West. Rumor has it a frequent visitor to their home was Jesse James, but no one from back then can substantiate that claim so the story, which I’m sure has been embellished, lives on.

Memorial Day was a serious day for my father who served during World War II and the Korean War. As a family we’d go to the cemetery and visit family graves. My paternal grandparents and paternal great grandparents are buried in the same cemetery. When I visit the cemetery on Memorial Day, there are flower vendors at every entrance selling flowers for visitors to place on the graves of their loved ones. Where the newer graves are, the area is crowded. Visitors bring picnics and spread blankets around the graves. Parking is at a premium. I go to the part of the area of the cemetery where my ancestors are buried and no one is in that part of cemetery. I feel badly that these poor souls are forgotten, but their children and grandchildren are gone and no one else in the family remembers them. There is a cemetery near my house that has a war memorial. The boy scouts and others plant American flags near these tombstones. It’s touching knowing that someone takes the time to remember these soldiers, many of them teenagers, who paid the ultimate price.

I hope you have a wonderful holiday, but I hope you’ll also take the time to remember those who should be honored on this day.

Have a wonderful and blessed week!