Memorial Day 2019

Today is Memorial Day, a remembrance of people who have died while serving in the United States Armed Forces.

The holiday began with decorating the graves of Civil war victims. According to PBS, “During that first national commemoration, former Union General and sitting Ohio Congressman James Garfield made a speech at Arlington National Cemetery, after which 5,000 participants helped to decorate the graves of the more than 20,000 Union and Confederate soldiers who were buried there. “

After World War I, Memorial Day became an occasion for honoring those who died in all of America’s wars and was then more widely established as a national holiday throughout the United States.

Photo credit TSgt Michael R. Holzworth via Wikimedia Commons

Let us honor those who sacrificed their lives for the principles of democracy: free speech, the balance of power, and an independent electorate.

Sherry: Neither my dad or his father died while serving but they both served, my dad during World War ll and my grandfather in World War I. And of course as a military spouse I honor all of those who have served or are serving. Look at how young they all look!

Jessie: My maternal grandfather fought in WWII and both of his sons served during the Vietnam era. I have thought of them and of all those who have given so much for the rest of us often over the time I have been writing and researching books set just after WWI. The older I get the more I realize what all of them risked and are risking by serving their country.

Allan B. Maxwell, Jr

Edith: My father’s father served in WWI – and lost his only brother to the conflict – and my father was drafted out of college into WWII. This picture shows Daddy in his uniform, probably at around twenty. The Army trained him in Italian but then sent him to a remote outpost in India where he passed along radio communications. They must have realized this scholar wasn’t well suited for the infantry.

Liz: My grandfather had to leave the army because of a knee injury during WWII, but he and my grandmother both volunteered for the war efforts. It meant a lot to him because I know he truly wanted to serve. My mother recently told me that his whole troop was killed during a tour. That really stuck with me. I know that must have affected him for the rest of his life.

Readers: What’s your Memorial Day weekend ritual? Who do you honor?

22 Thoughts

  1. Today, I honor my father, Cyril and uncle, Sam, who served in the Korean war. Sam was injured in that conflict. On the maternal side of the family, two of my mother’s brothers- Lorenzo and Arnold Junior served in WWII. Lorenzo was in the Navy and in additon to fighting the Japanese, he also had to deal with the insidious racism that was prevalent in that branch of service. I am grateful for their service and that of the million others who have fought in service to our country.

  2. When my son was still in Boy Scouts, he would go decorate the graves of local veterans with flags and march in the parade. I still remember how excited he was the year he got to carry the American flag (it was almost twice as tall as he was).

    While none of my family members died during their service, there is a big military tradition in my family. Both of my grandfathers were in the service during WWII. My paternal grandfather was a medic with the First Armored Division when they were in North Africa and later in Sicily. My maternal grandfather was in Europe. My materal grandmother was a Navy nurse (that’s how she met my grandfather; he was shipped stateside for tuberculosis to a hospital in Philly and she cared for him). My paternal grandmother worked for Bell Airplane in Niagara Falls making P39s.

    My dad missed service in Vietnam, but was in the Army Reserve for 20+ years and retired as a major.

    My father-in-law served in the Navy in Korea (I think). My brother-in-law served in the Navy.

    And my husband had a 20+ year career in the Army, first serving as an intelligence guy with the 3rd Special Forces Group (Airborne) in the Gulf War, and later was deployed as part of a postal unit in the Iraq war (he ran the base post office).

  3. Today we honor a number of people who served in the military in my family….a great grandfather who was killed in France during WWI, a great uncle who served during WWII, my mom’s oldest brother who served during peace time, my uncle (my mom’s other brother) who was killed at the age of 18 during the Korean Conflict, and a number of cousins who served in Vietnam and the First Gulf War.

  4. My family has a long history of military service. My dad and five uncles served in the Navy. I have one cousin who was in the Air Force, two cousins who served in the Army, two cousins served in the Navy (one is active duty), and two cousins who served in the Marines (one is active duty).

    Today I honor my uncle, LC King, who was killed on the Arizona during the bombing of Pearl Harbor, and my cousin, Michael Norman, who was killed in action in Iraq.

  5. Today I honor my Uncle Karl who died in WWII on the USS Quincy.

    We have a long family history of service. My Uncle Jimmy served in WWII, my father, unable to serve because of a childhood injury, helped start the aeronautical division at Otis Elevator, my brother Karl served in Viet Nam, my husband’s father in WWII, my husband’s mother was a WAAC in WWII, one of the first women military aviators, and my husband who served in Viet Nam as a Marine and later served 18 years in the Air Force.

  6. I honor my Father-in Law’s cousin, George Parten Fowler, who died in World War II in Pearl Harbor on the U.S.S. Arizona — he had just turned 19 years old ~

  7. I don’t have any family members who died fighting for our country. However, Memorial Day for me changed when someone I knew did die almost a decade ago now. I worked with the Jr. High group at my church, and Rudy was one of my Jr. Highers.

    I don’t have any rituals for the weekend. It seems like it is often a quiet weekend at home, and that’s what it is this year as well.

      1. It was.

        They have pennants they put up for people from town who have died in the line of duty around now (and the 4th and Veteran’s Day). I always make sure I find Rudy’s pennant.

  8. My nephew Brian. Currently serving in the Air Force and currently on his 3rd depolyment. As well as my husband, 2 brothers and brother in law who served in Vietnam war. Thanks Edith!

  9. This is a hard day for me,remembering the first week in January1945,first a young cousin next a beloved Uncle and then my daddy.My mother had a breakdown and I grew up over night.My daddy lied about his age to join the Navy in WW l.Many in my family served our Country but all the rest came home.

  10. On Memorial Day and Veterans Day, a small group of pilots fly 1940s military planes in formation across the San Fernando Valley. We get excited the minute we hear the roar of those engines, and rush aside to salute the planes. I haven’t heard them yet today. I hope I didn’t miss them.

    One of the greatest regrets of my dad’s life was that he didn’t get to serve in WW2. He tried every branch, including the merchant marines, but was classified as 4F due to some physical problems. “I’m doing you a favor,” one enlister told him. But for my dad, the favor would have classifying him as ready to serve and sending him to fight the Nazis.

  11. Although my Dad didn’t die in service, he served proudly in the U.S. Army for 29 years serving in WWII, Korea and Vietnam. During the time I was a military brat, I know of friends who lost their father’s during the war and I remember them as well as all men and women that gave all so that we remain free.

    God bless America and all the people who serve their country and the families of those that gave their all.
    2clowns at arkansas dot net

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