A day to honor, not celebrate
The bloody battles of the Civil War were still raging when women in the South began decorating the graves of Confederate soldiers. After the war, a day was set aside — “Decoration Day,” now known as Memorial Day — to remember and to pay tribute to soldiers’ ultimate sacrifices.
That inaugural Decoration Day was held on May 30, 1868. Today’s holiday remains “a solemn day of mourning (and) a sacred day of remembrance to honor those who paid the ultimate price for our freedoms,” as the nonprofit usmemorialday.org has aptly stated.
But the holiday’s original intent is easy to forget amid mattress sales, cookouts and a springtime three-day weekend.
“Too many people ‘celebrate’ the day without more than a casual thought to (its) purpose and meaning,” Memorial Day advocates argue at the website. “How do we honor the 1.8 million that gave their life for America since 1775? How do we thank them for their sacrifice?
“We need to put the memorial back in Memorial Day and observe the day as it was originally intended.”
The position is hard to argue. But Americans don’t need to give up time outdoors or their three-day weekend to remember the importance and original intent of Memorial Day or to appropriately honor those who fell in battle, assuring our freedoms. We owe it to them, and to our nation, to at least take a moment this weekend, perhaps even a reflectively long moment, to pay tribute, just as women in the South first did in the 1860s.
We can enjoy our holiday. But we should never ignore or forget its deeper meaning.
— Duluth News Tribune