Memorial Day: Let's Remember Why It Is A Holiday

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Memorial Day:  Let's Remember Why It Is A Holiday

Many of us will be enjoying cookouts or a day at the beach on Memorial Day. I am NOT opposed to having a good time on Memorial Day. It is a great holiday to get together with family and friends. It is also a three day weekend and an opportunity for a short stay out of town. But that is not why we observe this holiday.

Legend states that the first soldier's grave decorated (by someone other that his family) to honor his service was in Warrenton, Virginia in 1861, shortly after the start of the Civil War. In 1862, women in Savannah decorated the graves of Confederate soldiers. After the war, Northern interests began to follow the Southern practice and designate a Decoration Day for the adornment of the graves of the war dead. The day was not universally called Memorial Day until after World War II.

Veteran's Day, on November 11, is when we honor all veterans who have fought for our country. Memorial Day is specifically intended to be a day for honoring those who died while in service (including those who fought for the Confederacy in the Civil War.)

I honor here my ancestors who died while in military service:

Pvt. Benjamin Kenton, R.S. (my 7th great uncle.) He served in the 11th Virginia Regiment, 7th Company of the Continental Line and died at Philadelphia on 26 JUL 1777 in defense of the Continental capital.

Pvt. Silas Weeks, R.S., (my 6th great grandfather.) Silas Weeks and one of his sons - Theophilus Weeks - were soldiers in the Revolutionary War. Theophilus enlisted in Donoho's Company of the 6th North Carolina Regiment on 03 MAY 1776 while Silas enlisted in the same Company in 1777. Both participated in the battles at Brandywine and Germantown. They wintered at Valley Forge in the winter of 1777-78 in General Lachlan MacIntosh's Brigade, which was immediately adjacent to General Washington's post. Silas died on 22 MAY 1778 at Valley Forge.

Sgt. Thomas L. Roberts (my 3rd great uncle.) 1st Florida Cavalry, Company A, wounded and captured on 25 NOV 1863 at Missionary Ridge, TN; died 20 NOV 1864 at Rock Island, IL.

Memorial Day: Let's Remember Why It Is A Holiday

Memorial Day: Let's Remember Why It Is A Holiday

Pvt. William P. Roberts (my 3rd great uncle.) 9th Florida Infantry, Company K, killed at the second battle of Reams Station, Virginia on 25 AUG 1864.

Pvt. Abel Roberts (my 3rd great uncle.) Florida 4th Infantry, Company F, died on 15 SEP 1862 at Lafayette County, Florida.

Pvt. Reubin S. Roberts (my 3rd great uncle.) He died in AUG 1864 at a Confederate hospital in Petersburg, Virginia, due to illness. The most common cause of death in the war was illness, not combat wounds, and the most common illnesses were dysentery and typhoid fever. (Thomas, William, Abel, and Reubin Roberts were all brothers. This family sent five sons off to war and only one returned – crippled from a combat wound.)

Pvt. George Washington Bowermaster (my 5th great uncle.) He served in the 74th Ohio Infantry, Company A, then 31st Ohio Infantry, Company I. Pvt. Bowermaster died 31 JUL 1864 at Andersonville, Georgia.

Pvt. William L. Bowermaster (my 5th great uncle) served in the Illinois 80th Infantry, Company H, and was killed at the Battle of Perryville, Kentucky on 11 OCT 1862. One of my ancestors fought for the Confederacy at the Battle of Perryville.

Surprisingly - and thankfully - I have no ancestors who died in the Spanish-American War, World War I, World War II, the Korean War, or the War in Vietnam.

Memorial Day: Let's Remember Why It Is A Holiday
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  • xHoneyxBeex
    Yes! I feel that a lot of people need this reminder. So many people just see it as a 3 day weekend but it's meant to honor and remember those who didn't make it back home from war. It's amazing how you know your ancestors all the way back to the Revolutionary War and how/where they died.

    I can name all of my family members who served as far back as WW2. None of them died while serving though. I do know that I have ancestors who fought in the Civil War but I'm not familiar with their stories. That may be an interesting thing for me to research.
    Is this still revelant?

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What Girls & Guys Said

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  • Lopezz1999
    Memorial Day is actually one of my most respected holidays. Many of us don't know that without those who gave their lives for this country, we'd never have what we have now. I especially have a respect for WW2, Civil War, and Vietnam war veterans. Those were some of the most bloody and meaningful wars to me, and a couple of my ancestors had been known to have fought in those wars. Gotta give a salute to these passionate people.
  • Barrabus_the_Free
    People can do combat vets a huge favor by NOT saying "Happy Memorial Day" to them. Memorial Day has a vastly different meaning for them than for the rest of the population.

    I have a friend who did several tours in Iraq. He's talked to me about it a few times, usually after he's been drinking. I know for a fact that he does not want people telling him 'Happy Memorial Day', because then he gets to remember things like using a set of pliers to pull bone and tooth fragments out of his face during a firefight. Fragments from another guy in his unit, who got blown up. Another guy I know most likely doesn't want to think about the SIXTH time he got blown up in Afghanistan, when he was the only survivor in the Humvee he was in.
    • Ye, it should be a somber holiday and not just an occasion to get drunk and eat ribs.

  • NightOwl8801
    I agree with this.
    Remember and honor the fallen.
    This memorial day I remember my friend and mentor the late Col. Joe Luckett who passed away nearly five years ago , he was my teacher and mentor in school who served fourty years in the army.
    I remember and honor The fallen five of Chattanooga who died in a terrorist attack saving their fellow soldiers life at the Naval operations support center.
  • Prof_Don
    I never lost the meaning of Memorial Day. I know it is about a day of recognizing the American soldiers that lost their lives defending America.

    Like how I said on Facebook that day, "today is more than BBQ and a day off of work"
  • watchmen
    I feel like people need to be reminded about Memorial Day aswell. It's disppinting to think that people only see this day as a day to buy furniture and clothes and to get wasted by alcohol consumption.
  • Recovering
    I always remember my Air Force friends who never made it home. Mostly In remember my Dad, another decorated Air Force veteran.
  • Midget_Hug
    America: Mistreats living veterans. Honors the dead ones.
    • You and other could petition the change for that? Its just take a letter for something occur.

  • AlwaysBelieving
    Thank you for writing this take. And thank you for all the service men and women of the US.
  • RationalMale
    As an American... how many soldiers actually have fought for the lives and health of Americans? And how many died for political wastes? Hell, the deadliest war in American history, 620000 soldiers dead, was a war to keep territory for the federal government and only killed Americans.

    Today, does the US military actually defend the USA? We don't even secure our own borders and people. Arizona passed a bill a few years ago to try to enforce federal laws, and was smacked down overwhelmingly. Now we have federal judges claiming the constitution is a suicide pact saying we don't even have the right in the USA to stop people from various nations from traveling here if they are a protected religion.

    The current military doesn't serve its sole purpose of protecting American lives. It doesn't deserve any special respect.
    • I agree with you all the way up to the last sentence. I still respect the men serving, even though I don't believe in *what* they are serving. Because I've been there, and I know that they aren't doing what they do for the banksters, the politicos, the "American Way", mom, and apple pie. They're doing it for the men to their left and right. No one gives a shit about causes when the bullets start to fly, they only care about the guys that are depending on them, and they are depending on.

      You hit a lot of nails right on the head, and if it were up to me we'd pull ALL of our soldiers, sailors, airmen, and Marines back to the US and defend our own damn country, rather than making them bleed for an oil well or to 'protect' some group of sand-eaters against a tyrant that they ALLOWED to take power.

    • @Barrabus_the_Free the same can be said for so many armies. That they fight for their fellow soldiers. That means nothing good for us.

  • BCRanger10
    That's so incredible. Thank you for sharing this.
  • doctorwhofan23
    Thank you for sharing this.
  • Too bad I work freelance, not holidays for me.
  • Anonymous
    Good mytake!
  • Anonymous
    Memorial Day is a farce. The Government doesn't care about soldiers or veterans... it only pays lip service to keep delusional people sated and maintain recruitment. Fake holiday to "honor" fools who died in service of sociopaths and their self-serving political squabbles.

    The Republican Party in particular. It's ability to sling Bullshit is only surpassed by the Catholic Church. You have to stand in awe at their ability to directly work against the interests of their supporters but still get votes. No wonder they go for religious people.
    • If you eat all of the pablum being spoon fed to the youth by the liberal media, this is the kind of attitude that you get. I hope that your anger will not be so palpable as you get older.

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