Honoring and Remembering those who served and sacrificed – Memorial Day, May 30, 2011

Uptown Neighborhood News, Minneapolis,MN May 2011 - by Phyllis Stenerson

Memorial Day is set aside for remembering our fellow citizens who sacrificed their lives and well being while serving in our country’s armed forces. We honor the full measure of commitment of those who serve in theUnited Statesmilitary, and for the families who share in the sacrifice. 

Initially called Decoration Day, Memorial Day began by local people in various communities coming together to honor soldiers who died in the Civil War. The official national holiday began in 1868 with an proclamation from General John Logan, national commander of the Grand Army of the Republic. The first national observance was on May 30, 1868 when graves of Union and Confederate soldiers at Arlington National Cemetery were decorated with flowers. Every grave at Arlingtonis decorated every year to continue this tradition of honoring the fallen. 

The date was moved from May 30 to the last Monday in May with the National Holiday Act of 1971. The three day weekend has had the effect of diverting public attention from commemorating the sacrifice of Americans in the Armed Forces to enjoying a three day weekend. There has been a movement to restore the Memorial Day to its original date. 

The National Memorial Day Concert is broadcast on public television from the west lawn of the United States Capitol on Sunday May 29, usually at 7 p.m. Central Time (check local listing). Featured are acclaimed actors and musicians, the National Symphony Orchestra and color guards from all branches of the military and more. For more information about the concert, visit www.pbs.org/memorialdayconcert

Fort Snelling National Cemetery will hold their annual Memorial Day service on Monday, May 30 starting at 10:30 am. 

Our own Lakewood Cemetery holds a lovely, meaningful service starting at 10 am with traditional music, speeches and military color guards. It’s a wonderful time to experience our neighborhood in a special way and enjoy this unique resource. 

People across the country are asked to observe a moment silence at 3 p.m. (local time) to honor and remember those who gave their lives for our country. The Moment of Remembrance was initiated by President Bill Clinton in 2000 and first observed in 2001. 

It’s sad conflicting worldviews that so often divide Americans sometimes spill over into observances of Memorial Day. The observance is an opportunity to set personal biases aside and come together to honor those who served in the past and gratitude for those who are choosing to serve at this time. Thank you from a grateful citizen.

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