What is the Meaning of Memorial Day?
10 years ago
To answer this question we need to look back to the year 1868. In that year, the Civil War Veterans were in the news headlines and in the American psyche, as a grieving Nation was trying to care for the war dead, and Arlington National Cemetery (ANC) was expanding to accommodate their burial.
To help the grieving Nation and to honor those Veterans, General John Alexander Logan issued General Order #11, calling for the creation of Decoration Day – a time for the nation to honor its deceased veterans. In summary;
“The 30th day of May, 1868, is designated for the purpose of strewing with flowers, or otherwise decorating the graves of comrades who died in defense of their country… We should guard their graves with sacred vigilance… Let no neglect, no ravages of time, testify to the present or to the coming generations that we have forgotten as a people the cost of a free and undivided republic… Let us, then, at the time appointed, gather around their sacred remains, and garland the passionless mounds above them with the choicest flowers of springtime; let us in this solemn presence renew our pledge to aid and to assist those whom have left among us a sacred charge upon the Nation’s gratitude – the soldier’s and sailor’s widow and orphan.”
Over the ensuing years, the popularity of Decoration Day grew and in 1888 was declared a national holiday and renamed Memorial Day.
Each year for Memorial Day, Old Guard soldiers honor the fallen Veterans laid to rest in ANC and the U.S. Soldier’s and Airmen’s Home National Cemetery by placing American flags at every grave in a ceremony known as “Flags In”. As part of Flags In, the Relief Commander at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier (Tomb) selects a Tomb Guard to do the same for the Unknowns .
Tomb Guards take an oath to never forget, and on this Memorial Day we remember the ultimate sacrifice made by:
- the Unknowns laid to rest at the Tomb
- all unknown war dead
- our Tomb Guard brothers who were Killed in Action:
and all Veterans and their families who have made sacrifices for the freedoms we enjoy.
I’ll leave you with a poem by Moina Michael, "We cherish too, the Poppy red That grows on fields where valor led, it seems to signal to the skies that blood of heroes never dies.”
Herbert Eugene Cleveland, Sr., born November 27, 1953, of Kansas City, MO, was called home on December 17, 2019. Herb is preceded in death by his parents, Loren and Mary Cleveland. He is survived by...
John David Gira, 86, of Harrisonburg, Va., passed away on Tuesday, December 17, 2019 at home in the care of his loving family and an amazing nursing staff. He was born April 15, 1933 in Yonkers, NY...
Gary Broersma’s Celebration of Life at 600 Seminole Woods Blvd, Geneva, FL 32732-8718, United States
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Did you know?
Are the shoes specially made with very thick soles to keep the heat and cold from their feet?
The shoes are standard issue military dress shoes. They are built up so the sole and heel are equal in height. This allows the Sentinel to stand with a straight back and perpendicular to the ground. A side effect of this is that the Sentinel can "roll" on the outside of the build up walking down the mat. Done correctly, the hat and bayonet will appear to not "bob" up and down with each step. It gives a more formal, fluid and smooth look to the walk, rather than a "marching" appearance.
The soles have a steel tip on the toe and a "horseshoe" steel plate on the heel. This prevents wear on the sole and allows the Sentinel to move smoothly during his movements when he turns to face the Tomb and then back down the mat.
Then there is the "clicker". It is a shank of steel attached to the inside of the face of the heel build-up on each shoe. It allows the Sentinel to heel click during certain movements. A guard change is considered great when all the heel clicks fall together and sound as one click. The guard change is occasionally done in the "silent" mode (as a sign of devotion to the Unknowns) with no voice commands - every thing is done in relation to the heel clicks and on specific counts.