Before the Civil War ended — which was called the War of Rebellion back in the day — women of the South began decorating the graves of the fallen with flowers. It wasn’t until May of 1868 that the national commander of the GAR (Grand Army of the Republic) issued an order to observe Memorial Day and decorate graves of both Union and Confederate soldiers at Arlington National Cemetery. “Memorial Day is not about division. It is about reconciliation; it is about coming together to honor those who gave their all,” the proclamation stated.
Since then, including both World Wars, people visit cemeteries to honor the fallen and remember those who continue to serve our nation. One thing I’ve noticed, however, is the trend to “picnic” or make the weekend more of a party day or weekend. Yes, it’s the official summer “kick-off” for many people. But others still take the time to visit the graves of family, to tidy up the grass and remember those who have left us.
One tradition that my family always had was to attend the St. Clair Shores Memorial Day parade. My dad is a WWII Navy veteran, and seeing his colleagues at VFW Bruce Post passing by gave me a thrill. I also loved the Scottish bagpipes and the other vets marching by, despite the sunburns and the heat we endured most of the time during our parade watching. I wish I’d kept up that tradition for my daughter, but we have yet to attend a parade together. But we do visit the grave of my mother and aunt.
We might just catch the parade this year before heading up north to the summer cottage. We’ll see. Whatever the case, we want to say THANK YOU and GOD BLESS YOU to those who have served our country and those who are serving NOW!