Originally May 30th was the day that people decorated the graves of Union soldiers in memory of their sacrifice in that human meat grinder called The Civil War.
Michigan was first to make Decoration Day a state holiday in 1871 but by 1890 all northern states celebrated the occasion.
The South had its own Memorial Day and it really wasn’t until after World War I added to the list of soldiers to be remembered that America had a unified Decoration Day, although because the Civil War so dominated the day, veterans of The Great War (as we called it before we learned to number them) wanted their own day of remembrance, giving us Armistice Day.
It’s the first time in quite some time that Memorial Day falls on the actual originally intended day of May 31st. This is because Congress decided to give everyone a 3-day weekend in 1971 and voted to have it fall on the last Monday in May.
I suspect it was to keep more kids in school because when May 31st fell on Tuesday or Thursday the temptation among parents to haul their kids out of school for an extra day at the onset of summer was just too great.
It’s also the day we celebrate mass consumption of really expensive fuel as Formula 1 cars race each other for 500 miles by going around and around a track in Indianapolis.
And finally, it’s a day we reserve to fire yet another shot across President Obama’s bow as neoconservatives on the airwaves rant and rave over how Barack Obama is slighting our fallen heroes by not laying a wreath at the Tomb of the Unknowns in Arlington National Cemetery.
In which I have to ask, what is so special about Arlington? Are more importantly dead soldiers found there?
Or does it just so happen that Arlington National Cemetery and the White House are conveniently close to each other?
Oh, and then there is the thing about Memorial Day marking the beginning of summer, something that I mistakenly thought happened on June 21st.
And finally, oh yes, Memorial Day is a day set aside where we honor the service and sacrifice of men and women who paid the ultimate price by dying in war. A price that makes my blood boil lately knowing what I know about how the War in Iraq was a pure fabrication on the part of Dick Cheney, and that the War in Afghanistan, a war whose purpose was to end Taliban rule in Afghanistan, had it’s principal mission completely accomplished 8 years ago.
So in honor of these soldiers, let’s not make more fallen heroes to remember on Memorial Day, OK?
Bring them home. Now.