“The dead soldier’s silence sings our national anthem.” (Aaron Kilbourn)
Memorial Day began as Decoration Day after the Civil War when the wives, mothers, and sisters began decorating the graves of the fallen soldiers. Slowly as the years passed, Decoration Day, observed on May 30, began to be called Memorial Day, but it wasn’t until1967 that Federal law changed the name officially. The year after that the Uniform Holiday Act was passed and the observance of Memorial Day changed to the last Monday in May. Not everybody was happy with changing the date just to give people a three day weekend. Many felt it would take away from the original reason for the day – honoring those who gave their all for our country.
The picture above is of the Memorial Field in my county. The flags represent soldiers from our area killed in service to their country. The memorial could be repeated in every town – big and small – all across our country. Thousands and thousands of flags were put on veterans’ graves this Memorial Day in honor of their sacrifices.
At church this morning, one of the men, who served during the Vietnam War, was wearing a pin showing the number of Americans killed in that war. 58,169. The average age of the soldiers killed was 23. 11,465 of those killed in action were younger than 20.
I looked farther back. The Korean War claimed close to 40,000 American casualties. In World War II, 60 million people worldwide were killed. U.S. Military casualties were 416,800. In World War I, the war that people at that time believed would be the war to end all wars, 126,000 American soldiers perished.
The dead in the Civil War is thought to be around 700,000. So you can see how there were many who were left behind to grieve for loved ones. They didn’t want to forget and so they remembered by decorating the graves.
We continue to remember today. Tomorrow, Monday, at 3 p.m., a moment of silence will be observed for all those who died in service to our country. May we never forget the debt we owe to those men and women willing to give their all so our flag can continue to fly over a free country. America, the Beautiful!