Sunday, May 28, 2017

The LuLac Edition #3517, May 28th, 2017


While we enjoy the kick off to the summer of 2017 this Memorial Day, it’s important to understand the history of the holiday. Our late friend and frequent poster Jim Petrie, a Vietnam War Veteran, would emphatically tell you it’s not the same as Veterans Day.
Memorial Day is a national holiday in honor of those who died in war, and has its origins dating back to the Civil War. In comparison, Veterans Day in November, which started as Armistice Day to celebrate the first anniversary of the end of World War I, honors American veterans, both  living and dead.
On May 5, 1868, three years after the nation’s deadliest war ended, an organization of Union veterans established Decoration Day as a time to place flowers on the graves of fallen Civil War soldiers.
Following President Abraham Lincoln's assassination in April 1865, commemorations were ubiquitous. The sheer number of soldiers of both sides who died in the Civil War (more than 600,000) meant that burial and memorization took on new cultural significance. Under the leadership of women during the war, an increasingly formal practice of decorating graves had taken shape.
Although various cities claim to have held observances before then, the 1868 Decoration Day at Arlington National Cemetery was the first large observance with about 5,000 people in attendance, including Gen. Ulysses S. Grant.
About 100 years later, actually it was 1966, Congress and President Lyndon Johnson declared Waterloo, N.Y., as the birthplace of the holiday, saying the town honored local veterans who fought in the Civil War two years earlier than the event at Arlington.
Initially only honoring fallen soldiers in the Civil War, Memorial Day was expanded after World War I to honor all those who have died in American wars. Congress declared Memorial Day a national holiday in 1971.
On Memorial Day, the flag of the United States is raised briskly to the top of the staff and then solemnly lowered to the half-staff position, where it remains only until noon. It is then raised to full-staff for the remainder of the day.
The half-staff position remembers the more than one million men and women who gave their lives in service of their country. At noon, their memory is raised by the living, who resolve not to let their sacrifice be in vain, but to rise up in their stead and continue the fight for liberty and justice for all. (Source: Veteran’s Administration, Wikpedia, LuLac).
Charles Ives's symphonic poem Decoration Day depicted the holiday as he experienced it in his childhood, with his father's band leading the way to the town cemetery, the playing of "Taps" on a trumpet, and a livelier march tune on the way back to the town. It is frequently played with three other Ives works based on holidays, as the second movement of A Symphony: New England Holidays.


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