Each May we celebrate Memorial Day in remembrance of those who have died in service to our country, though out of honour to the immense debt we owe them we should remember them every day of the year. With their very lives they bought our freedom.
Originally Memorial Day was referred to as Decoration Day owing that name to the custom of decorating with flowers the graves of our nation’s heroes. General John Logan, National Commander of the Grand Army of the Republic was the first to proclaim the creation of Memorial Day and it was observed officially for the first time on May 30, 1868 with flowers being placed on the graves of the Union and Confederate soldiers in Arlington National Cemetery. Following World War I the purpose was changed from just honouring those dying in the Civil War, to include all who have died fighting on behalf of our country.
Unfortunately now days, a number of Americans have forgotten the real meaning of Memorial Day treating it as another three day weekend. When we forget our veterans, we forget the very spirit of service and sacrifice that is the essence of our country. Freedom comes with a price and we have an obligation to remember those that paid it.
In May 2000 hoping to restore the real meaning of Memorial Day, President Bill Clinton supported a “National Moment of Remembrance” calling for all Americans to pause for one minute at 3:00PM every Memorial Day to, “remember and reflect on the sacrifices made for so many to bring freedom for all.”
In West Michigan, the Grand Rapids Home for Veterans established in 1886 has a long history of serving Michigan veterans. The first soldiers to live at the Home were those from the Civil War and the Home has been serving veterans from every military conflict since that time.
On May 30, 1886, a cemetery was opened on the grounds for those soldiers who passed away while residing at the Home. That cemetery continues to be used today, 124 years later.
For many years the Boy Scouts have decorated the cemetery with United States flags to honour our fallen soldiers. This is a monumental task with over 5,000 graves, but takes the Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts only a short time to accomplish.
Every year on the Wednesday prior to May 30, the traditional Memorial Day, a short ceremony is held. The scouts then march across the bridge to the cemetery behind the honour guard to plant flags on each and every grave. Last week the annual ceremony was held and flags placed on the graves. God bless our scouts and volunteers.
Today as the calendar allows us to celebrate Memorial Day on its traditional date of May 30th we honour our heroes and pause to remember their sacrifice and service. Every day across the world American heroes still give their lives for our freedom. Through them the spirit of our country lives on. Let us never forget them!