“Although no sculptured marble should rise to their memory, nor engraved stone bear record of their deeds, yet will their remembrance be as lasting as the land they honored,” Daniel Webster. Many times during our lives, we lose sight of the ‘big picture,’ events within our lives. Memorial Day is not an exception. In the weeks leading up to this holiday weekend, how many advertisements did you witness directed toward the desires of the consumer? Everywhere a person looked, there were announcements for department, liquor and food stores. Never once during this period of time did I experience an ad illustrating the true meaning of this day. Nor did I see anything illustrating one explicit message that Memorial Day should represent…….freedom never comes free. We owe all our freedoms to men and women, past and present who gave up everything for their love and belief in the country. I came across an article this afternoon discussing certain little known facts about this holiday in particular. Beyond the Barbecues, by Samantha Grossman which appeared on Time NewsFeed. The contents of the article are listed below. Following this, are photographs of cinema icons that, when the time came, they out their occupations second and country first.
This may come as a surprise — we hope you’re sitting down — but Memorial Day was not invented as an excuse to take a long weekend and loaf around eating grilled meats. While that’s certainly part of it, the holiday was established to honor those who’d died in the bloody conflicts of the Civil War, and continues to serve as a day of remembrance. So before you slather on your sunscreen (and if you weren’t planning on doing that, we recommend you do) and head to the neighbors’ barbecue, here’s a look at some little-known facts about everyone’s favorite summer kickoff holiday.
To honor the deceased, soldiers would decorate graves of their fallen comrades with flowers, flags and wreaths. Hence Decoration Day. Although Memorial Day became its official title in the 1880s, the holiday wouldn’t legally become Memorial Day until 1967.
After the Civil War, General John A. Logan, commander in chief of the Grand Army of the Republic, called for a holiday commemorating fallen soldiers to be observed every May 30. But due to the Uniform Monday Holiday Act, which took effect in 1971, Memorial Day was moved to the last Monday of May to ensure long weekends. Some groups, like the veterans’ organization American Legion, have been working to restore the original date to set the day apart and pay proper tribute to the servicemen and women who sacrificed their lives defending the nation.
In December 2000, Congress passed a law requiring Americans to pause at 3 p.m. local time on Memorial Day to remember and honor the fallen. But this doesn’t appear to be common knowledge, or if it is, by 3 p.m. most people seem to be too deep into a hot dog-induced food coma to officially observe the moment.
Of course then it was still called Decoration Day, and at the time, Garfield was a Civil War General and Republican Congressman, not yet a President. On May 30, 1868, he addressed the several thousand people gathered at Arlington National Cemetery. “If silence is ever golden,” Garfield said, “it must be beside the graves of 15,000 men, whose lives were more significant than speech, and whose death was a poem the music of which can never be sung.”
In addition to the national holiday, nine states officially set aside a day to honor those who died fighting for the Confederacy in the Civil War: Texas, South Carolina, North Carolina, Alabama, Virginia, Louisiana, Mississippi, Tennessee and Georgia. The days vary, but only Virginia observes Confederate Memorial Day on the last Monday of May, in accordance with the federal observance of Memorial Day.
According to the town’s website in 1966 Congress unanimously passed a resolution to officially recognize Waterloo as the birthplace of the holiday. However, it remains a contentious debate, with other towns, like Boalsburg, PA., claiming the title of “Birthplace of Memorial Day” as well.
The American Automobile Association projects 34.8 million Americans will travel 50 miles or more this weekend, with about 31 million of them traveling by car. But travelers aren’t expected to go quite as far from home this year, with a projected average distance of 642 miles — 150 miles fewer than last year’s average.
Stars Fulfilling Their Patriotic Duty
When World War II broke out, Carole Lombard immediately set out to sell war bonds at rallys. It was following a rally in Indiana, that her plane crashed on January 16, 1942.
Jimmy Stewart became a member of the Army Air Corps in 1941. Past generations of his family had served their country in times of war, which helped to prompt Jimmy to contribute to the war effort.
When World War II encompassed the United States, Myrna Loy took a leave from her Hollywood film career. Instead, she focused her time and efforts on becoming a contributing member of Red Cross, participated in rallys (her outspokenness landed her on Hitler’s so called ‘blacklist,’) and ran a canteen.
Following Carole Lombard’s death, Clark Gable made a public announcement in 1942 that he was enlisting in the Army Air Corps as an aerial gunner.
Bette Davis serving soldiers at the Stage Door Canteen.
Rita Hayworth leading a conga line at the Stage Door Canteen.
Humphrey Bogart and Bette Davis doing a live broadcast from the canteen.
All in all, this weekend should be about spending time with your loved ones and taking time to reflect on how much people have given up to preserve our freedom. This post is to say thank you for all of the men and women, past and present who gave up everything for us. Thank you.
“This giant fleet of American warships – a modern armada – churns across the ocean day and night for a journey of four thousand miles. It moves with the inevitability of a railroad schedule. It stops for nothing, it deviates for nothing. The United States, having been surprised at Pearl Harbor and then raked in battle after battle by the onrushing forces of imperial Japan, has finally stabilized and gathered its strength. Now the American giant is fully awake and cold-eyed. It is stalking an ocean, rounding the curve of the earth, to crush its tormentor.” Quote from the movie, Flags of Our Fathers.
“And I’m proud to be an American,
where at least I know I’m free.
And I won’t forget the men who died,
who gave that right to me.” Lee Greenwood.