“Those who have long enjoyed such privileges as we enjoy forget in time that men have died to win them.”
~ Franklin D. Roosevelt
Though summer doesn’t officially begin before a couple of weeks, Memorial Day Weekend traditionally kicks off to summer. Every tourist destination in the U.S. is filled with throngs of travelers. Memorial Day is typically a joyous, relaxed vacation, a time to be outdoors with cooler spring temperatures generally giving way to summer heat. Aaliyah and I were down in the Outer Banks during the middle of the week, where retailers and hoteliers were bracing themselves for the inflow of visitors.
The Great Smoky Mountains National Park has been packed, with traffic only inching along U.S. Highway 441, which runs across the playground between North Carolina and Tennessee. In the same way, Charlotte, NC and Indianapolis, IN, was totally overrun with humanity on account of the yearly Coca-Cola 600 and Indy 500 races. Along with all these festivities we also remember our fallen heroes on Memorial Day, a national holiday set aside to venerate American warriors who’ve lost their lives in wars.
To me, this vacation has always been a strange juxtaposition of the party of life and the memory of lives lost. Often Aaliyah and I reflect upon the same, she sometimes feels the celebration and events set on the day belies the real reason for which it is intended.
Boalsburg, PA, proclaims itself the birth of Memorial Day, with women there seemingly decorating soldiers’ graves in 1864. Folks in Warrenton, VA, claim they started this practice of decorating graves in 1861 and on the other hand, President Lyndon B. Johnson, on May 26, 1966, signed a proclamation designating Waterloo, N.Y, as this birthplace of Memorial Day. Congress apparently accepted and passed a resolution noting that Waterloo celebration, a hundred years earlier, has been first of its kind in this country. Additionally to Boalsburg, PA, 3 other communities claim, including Carbondale, IL, Columbus GA, and Columbus, MS.
The mists of time so often shroud history, confusing it between reality and sentiment. Almost all these municipal observances were normally known as decoration days, together with Memorial Day becoming the common reference throughout the 1940s. Many soldiers were killed in the gory wars and we believe before we set out to celebrate and rejoice the holiday we must pause to commemorate the spirit of these heroes and be grateful for their sacrifices.
Enjoy and reflect this week friends!