A day to honor those who lost their lives for America and remembering loved ones.
The first Decoration Day was held in Arlington Cemetery in 1868. President Ulysses S. Grant officiated. It was held to honor and remember the 620,000 soldiers who died in the Civil War. Decoration Day became known as Memorial Day and was celebrated by states before it became a federal holiday. New York was the first state in 1873 and Waterloo, New York was named the birthplace of Memorial Day because the citizens placed flowers and flags on soldiers’ graves.
It is interesting to note that women laid flowers on soldiers’ graves in Columbus, Mississippi, in April,1866, to honor those who had died in the hospital from wounds and disease. Research showed prior to that year in 1865 in Charleston, South Carolina, former slaves and missionaries gave the 257 Union prisoners a proper burial. These graves were placed in rows and a ten foot fence was built around it. The sign read “Martyrs of the Race Course.” Ordinary people did extraordinary things to honor those lost in war.
In 2005, Jeff Miller and Earl Morse formed the Honor Flight Network to honor those who served in the military. Honor Flights take veterans to Washington DC to visit the nations’ memorials. It began with WWII veterans and now Vietnam veterans are the primary recipients. Today there are 128 hubs throughout America and approximately 22,000 veterans make the trip each year.
As a little girl, I remember watching the soldiers march down the street behind the band. My mother picked flowers (mainly peonies) and we went to the cemetery to put flowers on relatives’ graves. We honored veterans and remembered loved ones.
This week 19 children and two teachers were killed by a disturbed young man in Texas. The shortest verse in the Bible is Jesus wept, and I believe Jesus cried with us as we wept. On this Memorial Day we pray for the families of those who mourn their loved ones, whether they were lost many years ago or as recently as this week. I pray that God will bring comfort and strength to all who have lost loved ones.