Memorial Day – Help Carry the Load

An American flag flaps in the wind.

I was watching the news with my mom last night and they had an interesting story on Memorial Day. Last year, I blogged about Memorial Day and talked about the history of the holiday and why it was created. I also talked about what it has become and how people celebrate it today. Originally created to honor veterans of the Armed Services who had died, Memorial Day has sort of become a holiday to honor any loved ones who have died. In our family, it is a tradition to visit the cemetery on Memorial Day and to put flowers on the graves of relatives we’ve lost.

There was an NBC news story about a veteran named Clint Bruce. He is a former Navy SEAL who has completed a ton of dangerous missions while he was in the military. He has also lost a large number of friends and fellow soldiers while in battle. Mr. Bruce believes that it is his duty to remind Americans of the real intention and meaning of Memorial Day, so he founded an organization called Carry the Load.

Carry the Load collects contributions that are distributed to the needy families of troops and first responders who have died in the line of duty.  Carry the Load also organized a charity event that I think is a pretty cool idea – a walk from West Point, NY (home of the United States Military Academy) all the way to Dallas, TX!  This year’s walk began on April 28th at the cemetery at West Point and ended May 24th (yesterday), the day before Memorial Day, in Dallas.  The total distance of the walk was 2,000 miles.  The walk is actually a relay, and works just like the march of the Olympic Torch every four years.  Most people walk just part of the long distance before passing the American flag off to another person who continues the relay.  The walk passes through several cities and towns between West Point and Dallas and serves as a reminder to people what the real meaning of Memorial Day is.

Today, my dad smoked pork spare ribs and country style ribs.  My mom made warm potato salad, baked beans, corn on the cob, and corn bread; and my dad said grace for our food before we ate.  And before we prayed, I reminded my dad to pray for the soldiers and their families who had died in service to our country.  It’s the very least we could do.

Happy Memorial Day!

Happy Memorial Day!

This weekend both of my parents took my grandmas (my dad’s mom and my mom’s mom) to visit the cemetery and put flowers on the graves of our relatives.  My parents have been married for almost fifteen years and they didn’t know each other when they were little, but their relatives are buried in the same cemetery.  It’s even more of a coincidence because they are buried like almost right next to each other.  When my dad goes to his dad’s grave it is like 50 feet away from my mom’s grandma’s grave.  Anyway, I rode with my mom and we put flowers on everybody’s grave.  This year it was pink carnations.  My mom has a lot of relatives in the cemetery because her granny had ten brothers and sisters.  My dad only has a few people there.  When I asked my parents why we celebrate Memorial Day and go to the cemetery they said that Memorial Day was really created to visit the graves of veterans or people who died in war, not just to go visit the grave of anybody who had died.  But, over time the holiday morphed like so many things do, and now people use Memorial Day as a time to visit the graves of all of their loved ones who have died.

When we got home, I looked it up on the Internet.  This is what I learned.  Memorial Day was originally called Decoration Day.  It was a day of remembrance for those who had died in military service to the United States of America.  Over two dozen cities and towns claim to be the birthplace of Memorial Day, but Waterloo, NY was officially declared the birthplace of Memorial Day by President Lyndon B. Johnson in May 1966.  There is conflicting information about the origins of Memorial Day, but what everybody does agree with is that Memorial Day was created out of a desire of people to honor the Civil War dead.  Its purpose was to spread flowers and decorate the graves of soldiers who died in defense of our country.  On the first Decoration Day, General James Garfield made a speech at Arlington National Cemetery, and 5,000 participants decorated the graves of the 20,000 Union and Confederate soldiers buried there.

Since that time, Memorial Day is used to decorate the graves of all people, not just those who died in war.  It is also a holiday that gives people a three day weekend and marks the beginning of summer.  People barbecue and go to the lake and do outdoor stuff.  At my house, we have a family tradition and my dad makes his famous gumbo.  He makes gumbo on Labor Day too.  Today we had gumbo and crab cake sandwiches.  It was delish!  I also made a Memorial Day craft using four paper plates.  Take a look.

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This 3-dimensional star is made from 2 stars that are interlaced. Once complete, the star stands by itself on a table, and makes a great patriotic decoration.

Supplies:

  • Ruler
  • Pencil
  • Stiff paper like card stock, decorative paper plate or thin cardboard.
  • Scissors
  • Crayons or markers (if decorative paper or paper plate is not used)

Two paper stars are needed to make one 3-dimensional star.

Decorate the two stars on both sides, then cut them out. If you use decorative paper or paper plates, you’ll need four of each. Draw the stars, cut them out and paste the white sides together to get a print on each side of the stars. Make one slit in each star. On one star, the slit goes from an inner corner to the center point of the star; on the other star, the slit goes from an outer corner to the center point.

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Slip the two stars together through the slits you just cut. For stability, you may have to tape the stars a bit where they meet at the slits.

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You now have a great three-dimensional star decoration that stands by itself on a table.