Being a huge fan of American history, this is always been a special time of the year for me. The gaining of our independence and subsequent protection of our freedom is a long tale fraught with courage, determination, and sacrifice. The two films that always leap into my mind when I consider these virtues that have helped fashion the United States of America are Saving Private Ryan and Glory. I can never watch either of these without a lump climbing in to my throat and moisture finding its way into my eye. This year, in order to further recognize the holiday I wanted to gain a bit of perspective of its place in our collective story.
It originally started out in the years immediately after the Civil War when the combined loss of over 600,000 soldiers killed in the conflict created a new cultural focus on burial and remembrance. Its original name was Decoration Day and did not come to be known as Memorial Day until after World War Two. The date of May 30th was originally chosen as it had no affiliation with any specific battle and was a peak time for most flowers to be in bloom, according to White House historical accounts. In 1967 Congress passed legislation causing the holiday to be celebrated on the fourth Monday of May, much to the dismay of veterans who felt this change would weaken the observance of the actual holiday.
So this Memorial Day, let's keep in mind the real purpose of the holiday that is beyond the fireworks and bottles of sunscreen, the bags of charcoal and pool openings. Think of the people in our Armed Forces that are currently overseas and those that have gone on before. It is up to us to recognize what they do and what has been done by others in the past.
How about you, are there any books or films that you like to experience at this time of the year?
I wish everyone a happy and safe Memorial Day weekend!