Memorial Day Weekend is the unofficial kickoff to summer, and as such vehicles flood the highways and tourists flood the sidewalks. The smell of barbeque fills the air while the sound of laughter rings in your ears. Everyone is happy. The skies are blue. And the fish are jumping. But amidst all of this joy we may hear the last, resounding notes of a trumpeter playing “Taps,” composed by Union General Daniel Adams Butterfield to signal the end of the day and later to be played at memorials and funerals. The last Monday of May is a commemoration for all those who died while in the military service. Memorial Day began as Decoration Day in 1868 at Arlington National Cemetery when citizens decorated both Union and Confederate graves. But a couple of years before that, in the wake of the Civil War, local communities, north and south, claim they started Memorial Day by honoring the graves of those who died. President Johnson, with the help of Congress, ended this debate by declaring that Waterloo, New York was the birthplace of Memorial Day, because its ceremonies were community wide and annual. Memorial Day did not become a nationally recognized holiday until 1971. So at 3:00PM take off your hat and have a moment of silence.
“With the choicest flowers of springtime…we should guard their graves with sacred vigilance…Let no 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.” -Major General John A. Logan