Memorial Day: Honoring the Fallen

Memorial Day PoppyAs nifty as it is to have a three-day weekend filled with festivals and music and sunshine, hitting Monday morning by turning the alarm off and nabbing that extra half hour of sleep, I can’t help but wonder if we sometimes forget the meaning of the holiday. Fortunately, I have the Grand Mac Daddy of the inspirational battle speech all ready to go for us all.

According to David Merchant’s website on Memorial Day History, the day appears to have originated in any number of cities and towns following the Civil War; what all the places had in common, however, was the coming together of people to honor those who had died serving our nation during wartime. The day was officially proclaimed and observed in 1868, with all the Northern states recognizing the day by 1890. The South honored their dead on a separate day until after World War I. We can thank Congress for our three-day weekend, who in its National Holiday Act of 1971, deemed that the holiday would be celebrated on the last Monday in May.

For your Memorial Day inspiration, consider the words of William Shakespeare from his play Henry V; or if it serves you better to hear the cadence of the words, watch Kenneth Branagh breathe life into the speech in his most excellent film adaptation of the play:

From this day to the ending of the world,
But we in it shall be remembered–
We few, we happy few, we band of brothers,
For he today that sheds his blood with me
Shall be my brother; be he ne’er so vile,
This day shall gentle his condition.
And gentlemen in England now abed
Shall think themselves accursed they were not here,
And hold their manhoods cheap whiles any speaks
That fought with us upon Saint Crispin’s Day.

For all who have given their lives in service of this country, thank you.

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