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Memorialization Day

Memorial Day began as “Decoration Day” in 1868, as a way to remember the fallen military fighters of both the South and the North, the “Great Rebellion.”

Later it became Memorial Day to remember ALL fallen military service members, who gave their lives so we might live in ease here at home, especially those who fell in the “Great War” of World War One.

Perhaps you are surprised it wasn’t really started in 1968 to sell cheap mattresses and cars at exciting prices? Or perhaps slightly better, a weekend spent with family and friends around a campfire, drinking beer and eating hotdogs. Because that is what it has come to mean for so many of our fellow Americans.

To memorialize something is to “do or create something that causes people to remember (a person, thing, or event),” according to Merriam-Webster dictionary.

My son and his fellow Boy Scout troop members make annual pilgrimages to local Harrisburg cemeteries, and arrange flags on the graves of Veterans. The boys tidy up the graves, make sure the bronze emblems are correctly shown, and then they move on to the next.

This activity causes the boys who do this, and those who see the patriotic results, to actually memorialize the fallen heroes. And to me, every service woman and service man is a hero. Whether you see combat or not, whether the armed services gave you the step up you needed in life, or if the armed services were actually a digression for you, it makes no difference. Everyone who puts on an American armed services uniform is a hero, a patriot, and deserves to be memorialized.

Now and later.

The question that keeps rolling around in my head this week is “What will I do to mark this special holiday weekend?”

No, drinking beer won’t do it. Neither will eating hotdogs.

I will figure out something, and it may be as simple as leading our family in the Pledge of Allegiance to our great flag, which flies over our porch. But by God, I will remember, because if there is one thing I cannot do, it is take all this opportunity and wonder for granted.

If not for our armed services, America would not exist.

Thank you, women, and men, for your service.


General Orders No.11, WASHINGTON, D.C., May 5, 1868

1. The 30th day of May, 1868, is designated for the purpose of strewing with flowers or otherwise decorating the graves of comrades who died in defense of their country during the late rebellion, and whose bodies now lie in almost every city, village, and hamlet church-yard in the land. In this observance no form of ceremony is prescribed, but posts and comrades will in their own way arrange such fitting services and testimonials of respect as circumstances may permit.

We are organized, comrades, as our regulations tell us, for the purpose among other things, “of preserving and strengthening those kind and fraternal feelings which have bound together the soldiers, sailors, and marines who united to suppress the late rebellion.” What can aid more to assure this result than cherishing tenderly the memory of our heroic dead, who made their breasts a barricade between our country and its foes? Their soldier lives were the reveille of freedom to a race in chains, and their deaths the tattoo of rebellious tyranny in arms. We should guard their graves with sacred vigilance. All that the consecrated wealth and taste of the nation can add to their adornment and security is but a fitting tribute to the memory of her slain defenders. Let no wanton foot tread rudely on such hallowed grounds. Let pleasant paths invite the coming and going of reverent visitors and fond mourners. Let no vandalism of avarice or neglect, no ravages of time testify to the present or to the coming generations that we have forgotten as a people the cost of a free and undivided republic.

If other eyes grow dull, other hands slack, and other hearts cold in the solemn trust, ours shall keep it well as long as the light and warmth of life remain to us.

Let us, then, at the time appointed gather around their sacred remains and garland the passionless mounds above them with the choicest flowers of spring-time; let us raise above them the dear old flag they saved from hishonor; let us in this solemn presence renew our pledges to aid and assist those whom they have left among us a sacred charge upon a nation’s gratitude, the soldier’s and sailor’s widow and orphan.

2. It is the purpose of the Commander-in-Chief to inaugurate this observance with the hope that it will be kept up from year to year, while a survivor of the war remains to honor the memory of his departed comrades. He earnestly desires the public press to lend its friendly aid in bringing to the notice of comrades in all parts of the country in time for simultaneous compliance therewith.

3. Department commanders will use efforts to make this order effective.

By order of


Adjutant General



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