What Memorial Day is All About

Memorial Day…a day set aside for the purpose of honoring those that laid down their lives for this country, those that call it home, and what it stands for.

After doing some research, I found I had a relative that was a Major in the Continental Army in Ohio during the Revolutionary War. He is buried in Hamilton Ohio and was designated “A Hero of the Revolution”. I had a relative who was a Colonel in the Confederate Army who commanded NC regiments at Picketts Charge. When Pettigrew was killed during the charge he took command of the Division and led them to the Union line where he was killed after telling his men “some of us won’t survive this day”.  I had an uncle who joined the Navy right after Pearl Harbor and was assigned to the hospital in Manila, was captured at the fall of the Philippines, was a member of the Bataan Death March and placed on a “hell ship” with 1100 other American POWs bound for what is now Taiwan, but because the Japanese did not mark the ship with a large “P” indicating prisoners of war were on board, the ship was attacked and sank by American submarines killing all but 4 men on board. My uncle was not one of the survivors.

While we veterans appreciate the kind words and the “Thank you for your service” but please, please, please remember that Memorial Day is for those that served and paid the ultimate sacrifice in the service of their country. We surviving veterans and active duty personnel remember them every day. All we ask is you go to a memorial near you and say those words to honor those that are no longer here. Then look around you and see what they willingly gave up their lives for and drop to one knee and say those words again.

On behalf of my relatives and all the others that paid that price they reply “You’re welcome”.

In the words of Benjamin Franklin, “A democracy…if you can keep it”

God rest their souls and God Bless America

Alan Marshall

SFC, Retired

United States Army

2 thoughts on “What Memorial Day is All About

  1. Personal anonymous note: Thanks, Alan, for your service and your relatives’ service.  I’m a poor student of history and your post prompted me to look at more info on Memorial Day’s evolution. I learned that Decoration Day was for placing wreaths on the graves of Union soldiers. Glad it evolved to be so much more “inclusive” (i hate that word!) in realizing Confederates died also. From military.com: But Decoration Day was not an official holiday. May 30 was a day touted by the Grand Army of the Republic, an association of Union Civil War veterans, as an official day of remembrance for people across the country. The idea was to honor the war’s dead by decorating the graves of Union soldiers.

    Local municipalities and states adopted resolutions over the following years to make Decoration Day an official holiday in their areas. Each of the former Union states had adopted a Decoration Day by 1890.

    As time went on, “Memorial Day” began to supplant “Decoration Day” as the name of the holiday, and it soon became a day to honor all fallen American troops, not just those from the Civil War. After the two World Wars, Memorial Day was the term in more common usage, and the act of remembering all of the fallen took on a renewed importance.

    In 1968, the U.S. government passed the Uniform Monday Holiday Act, which put major holidays on specific Mondays to give federal employees three-day weekends. Memorial Day was one of these holidays, along with Washington’s Birthday, Labor Day and Columbus Day. The act also codified the name “Memorial Day” into law.

    It all went into effect in 1971 and, by then, there were no more Civil War veterans — but there were millions of vets from later wars.


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