Don’t Assume They Know

child, kid, war veteran, dog tags, fallen soldiers, american flagMemorial Day is one of the best holidays. We get a Monday off, it signals the beginning of summer and the first BBQ of the season is always tastes the best. I am pretty sure the leaders of the country did not give us a bank holiday to celebrate hamburgers, red checkerboard tablecloths and cold beer (although, that is definitely something to petition for.) I had a vague idea of what the day commemorates, but my details are a little sketchy. I decided to ask my kids since they are in school where people learn stuff.

Me: “Why do we celebrate Memorial Day?”

Charlie (3): “Pancakes?” (We are hoping he gets by on charm.)

Shane (3): “Christmas is when we decorate with trees.” (We are hoping he meets a rich girl.)

Lorelei (8): Without hesitation, “Because we want to remember all the soldiers who died for us while defending our country.” (Whew. Maybe we are doing something right.)

Serena (10): Long delay, with a lot of complaining about why I am asking such hard questions, then, “It is either about Presidents or Family.”

Madelyn (11): “Should I know this?!?” Serious, stressful thinking, followed by, “I know it is something about the Presidents.”

With anti-American sentiment manifesting itself in everything from media campaigns to the horrible terrorist attack in Boston, it is more important than ever to teach our children to love their country and to appreciate the sacrifice of so many in the struggle to attain and maintain the freedoms we enjoy every moment. Need a quick tutorial? Me too.

In 1868, General John Logan, National Commander of the Grand Army of the Republic designated May 30th as a day to remember those who have fallen in service to their country and instituted the decorating of the graves of the soldiers at Arlington.

In 1873, New York was the first state to officially recognize the holiday.

By 1890, it was recognized by all of the northern states.

The Southern states only acknowledged the holiday after World War 1, when the holiday changed from honoring just those who died fighting in the Civil War to honoring Americans who died fighting in any war.

In 1971, Congress passed the National Holiday Act which appointed the last Monday of May as Memorial Day in order to ensure a 3 day weekend. (Thank you.)

Many feel the move from May 30th to give us a 3 day weekend is to blame for the lack of awareness and acknowledgement about what the day really means. There are campaigns to reinstate its original date … uh oh.

If not for the right reason of remembering those who gave the ultimate sacrifice so we may live in freedom, then to assuage those who want us to have random weekdays off, do it right this year.

Teach your kids why they have the day off from school. Then, simply, take part in  the National Moment of Remembrance resolution which was passed on Dec 2000.  It asks all Americans at 3pm on Memorial Day “To voluntarily and informally observe in their own way a moment of remembrance and respect, pausing from whatever they are doing for a moment of silence or listening to Taps.”

If you have 2 minutes, check out this story.

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Author: Karen Latimer

Karen is a Family Doctor, mom of five and founder of Tips From Town.


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