Yesterday, May 30th, was the original day to observe "Decoration Day" as Memorial Day was originally called, until it was moved to the last Monday of May in the year 1971. It began officially with General Order No. 11 by General John Logan, the national commander of the Grand Army of the Republic on May 5, 1868 and was set for May 30, 1868 as a day when flowers would be placed on the graves of Union and Confederate soldiers at the new Arlington National Cemetery. Decorating the graves of the war dead in both the South and the North was a dignity and an act of love accorded by men and women who had lost loved ones in that terrible war. By 1890 it was recognized by all of the northern states, and after World War I it included all who died in service to the nation and was accepted by almost the entire nation. It traditionally starts the Summer season.
Recognized by a day off, by flags and parades, by services honoring our veterans and especially those who gave the last full measure of devotion to God and Country, it has lost its meaning and importance in favor of picnics and parties, with little recognition of the sacrifices that the day represents. May we never lose sight of those sacrifices.
This past Monday was Memorial Day. We began the day with Mass and prayers for those of all conflicts and wars who made this gathering for prayer possible.
Memorial Day has always been special to me, since it was on this day in 1947 that Frances Stoviak gave birth to me. I jokingly say that I thought that they had parades and put out the flags for my birthday, until they moved Memorial Day to a Monday. Yesterday was a quiet birthday, with our staff at the parish treating me to lunch and balloons, and a good friend, Father Chet Raimer, taking me to dinner. Along with cards, gifts and face book greetings from friends, and a call from my cousin, Joy Flores from Nicoya, Costa Rica during the day and my sister, Janie, after work, it was a delightful way to celebrate. God is good!