Memorial Day...they gave up their tomorrows...

The Memorial Day holiday is finally here! For many of us it just means a long weekend. Memorial Day also means out of town trips, family get-togethers, the official opening of public swimming pool and the beginning of the tourist season for attractions like Six Flags and Sea World.

Somewhere along the line, I feel its true meaning has somehow been forgotten.

Memorial Day was originally called “Decoration Day”,” an official holiday created in 1868 following the Civil War, to celebrate the lives of the Union Soldiers. The term “Memorial Day” was not used till 1882, but didn’t really catch on until after World War II.

Different days of the year were celebrated by different states for nearly a hundred years after 1868. Finally in 1967, the U.S. Congress declared the day of remembrance to be officially named “Memorial Day,” and set the last Monday of May as the official celebratory date.

Today across America, our communities recognize the fallen soldiers with parades, and solemn cemetery events as well as setting up mini American flags at the tombstones of all soldiers. At Arlington National Cemetery each year over 220,000 small flags are placed at each tombstone and a vigil is held.

To date we have lost 5456 brave men and women in Iraq and Afghanistan. Sadly if we were to go back to the American Revolution and include all eleven of the wars and conflicts that Americans have been involved in, we would have a total of 1,090,206 brave men and women among those who have given their lives.

For over 25 years I have made it a special point to fly the American flag. Not only out of patriotism but out of respect and tradition, as I too am a military veteran. My current flag is almost 9 years old and was given to me by former Congressman and Majority Leader, Dick Armey (who coincidentally celebrates the same birthday as I do on July 7th).

It  was flown at the nation's Capitol in October of 2001. I set it up each day at dawn and remove it at dusk. And no matter where I find myself, I make it a point to attend the local Memorial Day event at one of the larger cemeteries.

I hope you will get out and celebrate this important holiday. If you can, reach out and personally thank a veteran, volunteer to go greet them as they return from their overseas assignments at your local airport or better yet donate to a charity that supports them or their families.

Start a Memorial Day tradition and while visiting You Tube today, make sure you spend a few minutes listening to Taps. This special bugler’s call always stirs a lot of emotions in me. It is the Military’s twenty four note bugle call. Of all the military bugle calls I’ve heard throughout my military life, none is more eloquent and haunting.

Its strains are melancholic yet it’s majestic brass sound is full of peace. If you have ever attended a military funeral you'll understand what I am saying. The echoes somehow linger in the heart long after the bugler’s tones have ceased to vibrate in the air.

The use of Taps is unique to the United States military and the call is not only sounded at funerals, but also wreath-laying ceremonies and memorial services. (Note: there are no "official" words to Taps below are the most popular I found.)

Day is done,
gone the sun,
From the hills,
from the lake,

From the skies.
All is well,
safely rest,
God is nigh.

Go to sleep,
peaceful sleep,
May the soldier
or sailor,

God keep.
On the land
or the deep,
Safe in sleep.

Love, good night,
Must thou go,
When the day,
And the night

Need thee so?
All is well.
Speedeth all
To their rest.

Fades the light;
And afar
Goeth day,
And the stars

Shineth bright,
Fare thee well;
Day has gone,
Night is on.

Thanks and praise,
For our days,
'Neath the sun,
Neath the stars,

'Neath the sky,
As we go,
This we know,
God is nigh.

Death leaves a heartache no one can heal, love leaves a memory no one can steal. - Author Unknown

I hope you've enjoyed your long weekend, now go hug a vet!
 
Make it a great dia!

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