Memorial Day was originally called Decoration Day
It started when women of the South decorated the graves of fallen confederate soldiers. After the war, the North also decorated the graves of their fallen. Each region had their own date in late spring when they decorated. It was seen as more of a reconciliation than of harboring old wounds.
It became a time to remember our fallen heroes of each war by decorating their graves. To let them know we will never forget their sacrifice.
As a child, I remember my mother called it Decoration Day. She’d cut fresh flowers from all over our yard. She filled buckets of water to hold all of her clippings. We’d put them in the back of our car, hoping they wouldn’t tip over. I liked going to the cemetery with my mom in the morning, when it was quiet and peaceful. My mom taught me respect for the dead as we cleaned around the headstones and decorated all of our family graves along with the military graves. She taught me proper flag etiquette. She taught me that the sacrifices my ancestors made helped provide the life we had.
Even with the example my mother set I don’t think I truly appreciated the sacrifices of those lost and fallen until I became an adult. Decoration Day for kids back then meant cleaning off the patio with a hose so I had a legitimate reason to get wet, having a BBQ and playing volley ball with my cousins, not to mention Memorial Day heralded the end of the school year.
A few years ago I had the opportunity of visiting the Washington Memorial, the Lincoln Memorial, the WWII Memorial and the Viet Nam memorial. I felt the sacredness of the area. I knew I stood on hallowed ground and that the Lord respected their sacrifices. This is where I truly gained reverence and awe for all the sacrifices made in my behalf.
May you enjoy the day with family, but also please take time to remember the cost and those who paid it.