Many people are taking this weekend to escape the heat in the desert. It’s been over 100 almost every day during the past week. They are headed to the mountains or to a cool lake where they can float on inner tubes and enjoy time away from work. Others are traveling to see family and spending time together. For some people, this weekend marks the beginnings of summer. While each of these activities are OK, I started to wonder about the origins for Memorial Day.
The closing images of the NBC Nightly News on Friday night were a group of soldiers going through Arlington National Cemetery who were placing flags on the tombstones in preparation for the weekend. This morning I used Google and typed in the words, “Memorial Day” and origin. Quickly I found the beginnings of this holiday.
Memorial Day began after the War Between the States or the Civil War and is a time to remember those men and women who died in the sacrifice for freedom. In 1971, an act of Congress declared Memorial Day a national holiday and placed it on the last Monday in May. Over the years, this holiday has become a time to recall more than just the Civil War but includes other national wars and is the most important day of recognition for our armed forces.
If you pause to think about it, many people can think of a relative or friend who died in a national war. For me, it happened before I was born. My mother’s oldest brother, James Douglas Estill, was part of the U.S. Army in Germany during the Second World War. While out on patrol, an enemy sniper killed James. I’ve often heard the family stories about the day the news arrived of his death. It’s the uncle I never met yet I’m grateful for his sacrifice for our country and so we can enjoy our freedom.
Hopefully at some point during this holiday, you will take the time to remember—and pray for our troops in harms way. From my perspective, it’s something worth remembering.