Memorial Day, originally called Decoration Day, is a day of remembrance for those who have died in service of the United States of America.
Now, back in the day, Decoration Day was originally started because of the Civil War - as a special day set aside for the sole purpose of honoring those who had fought - and who had died - on both sides - during that war.
Here's a little background:
Columbus Mississippi was a small town of about 6,000 people during the Civil War. Since Columbus was near a rail line, they received many mainly Confederate casualties of war, including those from the Battle of Shiloh in April, 1862, in nearby southwestern Tennessee. During the two days of that battle, a total of almost 3,500 soldiers were killed on both sides, and over 16,000 wounded. Columbus's share of the casualties led to its becoming well known as a hospital town.
By the war's end some 2,500 Confederate soldiers are thought to have been buried in the Friendship Cemetery in Columbus—along with, according to the National Archives, 32 Union soldiers as well. (As part of a nationwide effort to relocate Union soldiers to national cemeteries, those soldiers were later re-interred at Corinth National Cemetery, in northern Mississippi.
A year after the war's end, in April, 1866, four women of Columbus gathered together to decorate the graves of the Confederate soldiers. They also felt moved to honor the Union soldiers buried there, and to note the grief of their families, by decorating their graves as well. The story of their gesture of humanity and reconciliation is now told and retold in Mississippi as being the occasion of the original Memorial Day.
As far as I can tell, the stories (and there are many of them) differ in who actually started Decoration Day, or even where it was started... but the gist of the story is that the men who died, were offered respect for their sacrifice, no matter which side they had served on.
Even though Decoration Day later became known as "Memorial Day", the purpose for which it was originally started, has never changed.
It's sole purpose is for honoring those men and women who went away to war, and who never came home alive
I hate to be a nit-picker, but those words
"those who never came home"
is the whole point of the "holiday" now known as Memorial Day.
This isn't a day for remembering your Uncle Joe, who served in the Korean War, and then came home to marry his sweetheart, raise some kids, and who then continued to live on for another 30+ blessed years.
This day isn't for someones daddy or someones husband, who were good and decent men, who fought valiantly and honorably in Vietnam or WW1 or any other war... but who still managed to come home. Even if he did have physical or emotional wounds that he was forced to deal with, until he died some 40 years later.
This isn't for my Grandfather, my Dad my Uncles, or even my neighbors, who made it home from whatever war they fought in.
This day isn't for any of those men who managed to return home, and who then managed - successfully, or sometimes unsuccessfully - to get on with their lives and who eventually married, had jobs, those who could come home, and hold their mothers and fathers tight, as well as their sweethearts, their wives, their children, and eventually their grandchildren.
I mean none of those men and women any disrespect whatsoever, or any lack of honor.
Because they ALL did a noble and honorable thing by fighting for their country
Even if they didn't always get the respect that they so richly deserved.
But "their" holiday is Veterans Day - when we as a country honor them for their service, and to celebrate them coming home.
They are well and truly Veterans of War... but they survived.
But "Memorial Day." ?? Well, this day is set aside for the sole purpose of honoring those men and women who gave the ultimate sacrifice.
Those men and women who came home in caskets.
Those men and women who came home in body bags.
Those men and women who were never found, who were MIA, or who were never identified by their remains.
Memorial Day is their day.
Give them their due.
Give them the respect that they have earned, and please set aside this one day a year, to respectfully remember them.