Summary: This is a Memorial Day message in honor of all who sacrificed their lives that we might live.

Text: “And now these three remain: faith, hope, and love. But the greatest of these is love”

(1 Corinthians 13:13).

Tomorrow we celebrate Memorial Day. What does it mean to Americans?

What does it really mean to people?

To some people it is a time to get together with family and socialize and eat.

To others it is a time to watch the parade and listen to the program in honor of our military personnel living and deceased.

When I was a young lad my family always made a trip to the cemetery to place flowers on the graves of our loved ones.

I remember the times when my family and Carol’s family would reserve one of the covered pavilions at the local recreational park. Everyone would bring food to share and we would spend the entire day having a great time.

Since there were many young and older people, we would play ball, horseshoes, badminton, basketball, croquet, as well as other games. During the day there was talk about the good old days, my dad and Carol’s dad did very well in this area. The words “remember when” were heard many times during the day. I miss those days.

The stores were usually open Monday through Friday until 5:00 or 5:30 PM and Saturday until noon and closed on Sunday. People did not routinely work 2 or 3 jobs. People looked out for one another and shared with one another what they had.

People shared milk from their dairy cattle, eggs from their chickens, meat from their smoke house, vegetables from their garden, fruit from their fruit trees as well as fresh baked bread and pastries.

It is wonderful to think about the “old days.” We have things to tell our children, our grandchildren and our great grandchildren. I know that some of the things I relate to the younger ones are probably unbelievable in their minds, but one day they will also be telling their children how it used to be.

Is Memorial Day just a three-day weekend that marks the beginning of the summer season?

Is Memorial Day just a day off from work?

Is Memorial Day just another routine day?

To many people, especially the combat veterans, Memorial Day is an important reminder of those who died in the service of their country.

Webster’s Dictionary describes the word “MEMORIAL” as “something that keeps remembrance alive.”

The World Book Encyclopedia states that MEMORIAL DAY (or Decoration Day as it was formally called) is a patriotic day to honor American Soldiers who have given their lives for their country.

Flowers and flags are placed on graves of soldiers.

Many organizations march in military parades and take part in special programs.

In the spring of 1866, Henry C. Welles, a druggist in the village of Waterloo, NY, suggested that the patriots who had died in the Civil War should be honored by decorating their graves.

General John Murray heard about the idea of honoring Civil War veterans and thought it was a great idea. There were others who though the idea was good. People began to put flags, wreaths, crosses and flowers on the graves of those who fought and gave their lives for what they believed was right.

On May 5, 1866, the village of Waterloo, NY was decorated with flags lowered to half mast and the people of the town formed the first parade which was led by the veterans of the day. The parade ended at the town cemetery where those who had given their all out of the love of their heart were remembered and honored.

The day of remembrance was celebrated again on May 5, 1867, but was not proclaimed official until May 1868 by General John Logan. May 30 of 1868 was the first officially observed Decoration Day.

It is interesting to note that the South did not celebrate Decoration Day until after the First World War. They chose to pay tribute to their veterans on different days.

People realized that there were wars other than the Civil War in which men gave their live. There was the American Revolution, War of 1812, Indian Wars, Mexican War, and then the Civil War which was followed by the Spanish-American War.

The result of this realization promoted a change in name from Decoration Day to Memorial Day at which time soldiers from all wars would be honored. This name change took place in 1882 but was not routinely used until after World War II. It was officially named by Federal law in 1967. In 1971, Memorial Day was proclaimed a national holiday and would be celebrated the last Monday in May.

One veteran said these words, “Memorial Day is a tribute to all of America’s War Dead. It is a day of remembrance of my airborne brothers who paid the ultimate price during the Vietnam War”.

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