People have been celebrating Memorial Day (Decoration Day) since around1866. In different parts of the United States, people honored those who died in war by decorating their graves. Because May is a prime time for flowers to bloom, it was probably chosen as the month to decorate soldiers’ graves. Congress declared Memorial Day a national holiday in 1971, and it was designated as a time to honor all soldiers who had fallen in battle in American wars (U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs. 2014).
As far back as 1863, my relatives on my father’s side of the family have fought in American wars. Bland Brown was a Union soldier in the 110 Tennessee infantry from 1863-1866. He was injured when he was run over by a wagon. Joseph Westmoreland also fought in the Union Army and served from 1864-1866. He was a prisoner of war for 9 months. Many years later, my father and his brothers served in the U.S. Army during the Korean War. I have often thought of how they had to leave their family, endure training, and go to another country to participate in a battle they knew little of. They had to be brave whether they wanted to or not. All three survived the war and returned home, but so many others did not. It is for those who were unable to come back home alive that I encourage you to give a moment of silence sometime during the weekend. And if you know of a fallen soldier, spend a little extra time to decorate his or her grave.
How has war affected you? This is the story in you. Share it.
The Memory Keepers' Daughter,