Editorial, May 28, 2017: The true purpose of Memorial Day

Honor, reverence and remembrance. Those are the true purposes of Memorial Day. Hard as it may be for some to grasp, those concepts are far more important than picnics or “blow-out sales” on furniture, mattresses or automobiles.

Memorial Day is about remembering those who died for our freedom. That’s it, pure and simple.

It’s not the same as Veterans Day. That holiday is in November and rightly celebrates and honors all, living and dead, who have served in our nation’s armed forces.

Yes, this national holiday does signal the coming of summer. But Memorial Day is meant to be much, much more than that.

For those who understand its meaning, Memorial Day is — as it should be — a solemn holiday.

Originally, it was called “Decoration Day, “ but there is great debate about its actual origin. At least two dozen cities and towns across the country claim to be the birthplace of Memorial Day.

But that matter was settled, as a political issue at least, in May 1966 when President Lyndon Johnson officially declared Waterloo, N.Y., as the birthplace of Memorial Day.

While some of the history is sketchy, we do know that the first actual proclamation was issued by Gen. John A. Logan, national commander of the U.S. Army, declaring May 30, 1868, as the day when flowers were to be placed on the graves of Union and Confederate soldiers at Arlington National Cemetery.

That began a somber tradition that has been expanded and remains today.

Last Thursday — and each Thursday…

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California News
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