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What is Memorial Day all About?

For most people Memorial Day weekend is about barbecues and enjoying an extra day off with friends and family.  That is how it has been for us — well, until THIS year anyway.

This year (my son’s first year in Cub Scouts) we had the privilege of planting flags in the veterans’ graves at the Presidio in San Francisco.  It was the perfect backdrop to talk about why we celebrate Memorial Day.  (Sadly, you might be surprised at how many kids and adults don’t know the reason).  As he diligently worked, we read some of the names of these brave men and the dates they died – some of them well over a century ago!

It was a very poignant morning and well worth the early morning wake-up call.  As we looked back at the cemetery once all the scouts’ work was done, and saw the flags standing straight and tall on each grave marking, I felt goose-bumps appear on my arms.  All we needed was a bugle playing Taps, which my mind kept pretending to hear in the distance, though really I think it was just the wind rushing through the trees and gently flapping all those tiny flags.

On Monday, the kids and I will march in our town’s parade — which, at least in years’ past, had felt like it had little or nothing to do with honoring and remembering those who died in the military serving our country and more to do with various group just wanting to parade down the middle of the street waving at everyone and throwing out candy to the kids.  (No wonder my kids can’t wait until Monday).  As for this Zen Mama Wannabe, I’m just happy we had today – it really brought home the message of what the Memorial Day holiday is TRULY all about.

San Francisco National Cemetery at the Presidio

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4 Responses to “What is Memorial Day all About?”

  1. callieandbatido Says:
    June 1st, 2010 at 7:10 am

    We too marched in our local parade yesterday and your right, it didn’t feel like it had a lot to do with honoring our Veterans. How great that message was driven home for both you and your son.

  2. LarkLady Says:
    June 2nd, 2010 at 7:42 am

    One of the downsides of moving the celebration of holidays to Mondays, rather than on an actual date, is that the three-day-weekend takes on its own persona. In this case, of course, it wouldn’t have mattered: Memorial Day is May 31st and for once it fell on a Monday… we would have had a long weekend either way.

    But when you took a day off in the middle of the school or work week, rather than extending the weekend, there was more attention paid to the reason for the holiday. School projects in the days leading up to the holiday reinforced not only the reasons for having the holiday but also some of the traditions.

    But I wonder how many people realize that Memorial Day goes back to the American Civil War? We tend to think of the two World Wars, and then Korea, Vietnam and now Iraq and Afghanistan. But mostly, I’m afraid, Memorial Day is known as the unofficial beginning of summer, not a day to honor those who have given their lives in service for their country (Veterans Day in the fall is for honoring all Veterans).

    Since I’ve never lived where there’s been a local parade for Memorial Day, I display the flag and recite In Flanders’ Fields. And sometimes, like this year, celebrate my wedding anniversary 🙂

  3. Mohamed Says:
    September 20th, 2015 at 10:57 am

    I met Milton and Ruby only a few times, and it was many years ago. I had not heard of his passing. I have been going thruogh my own difficult times, but his warmth and smile and the few soft and encouraging words he spoke to me so many years ago stuck with me, and that’s how I ended up finding this website. Months ago I was clearing thruogh some old pictures, getting ready to move on to the next chapter of my life. Listening to Jazz Music and I came across pictures of Donna and the Murrill children. It put a smile on my face, as I wiped away my tears. Those tears have returned to me now, finding out very much by accident of his passing. To Ruby and the rest of the family, please know that it is very much in part my memories of you and Milton that have helped me get thruogh these times and keep a smile on my face and not let my experiences drag me into despair. My thoughts are with you all, you touched my life.I thank you for that, and for all the wonderful music.

  4. Asil Says:
    December 24th, 2015 at 12:44 pm

    Hate to say it, but I’ve forgotten the seiral # of every weapon I ever carried, except the 1911 I carried around. That one and the XO’s were a matched pair, and I remember both. As for taking out a vet, taking myself out sounds silly, so I’ll continue my tradition of taking out some of the active duty types nearby, wifey included.

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