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Five Quotes and Facts About Memorial Day-Not Just a Day Marking the Beginning of Summer

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Alas, Memorial Day is upon us once again - the day when we honor the men and women who have served the United States.  When the last Monday of May rolls around it'sarlington national cemetery recognized as the official start to summer.

Therefore, the true meaning of Memorial Day isn't necessarily on everybody's minds when they're heading to the beach, grubbing at cookouts, and partying.  As you will see later in this piece, even the VFW feels that the veterans have become an afterthought (for many) since the last weekend of May is a three-day weekend where people vacation and party rather than observe the importance of the sacrifices our veterans have made.

Memorial Day's roots began in the late 1800's when it started out as a tradition of of placing flowers on the graves of Union and Confederate soliders at Arlington National Cemetery.

Here are five facts about Memorial Day you may...or may not have known about.

1. Memorial Day (at the time called Decoration Day) was officially proclaimed on May 5, 1868 by General John Logan, the National Commander of the Grand Army of the Republic. His order was first observed on May 30, 1868 when flowers were placed on the graves of Union and Confederate soldiers at Arlington National Cemetery.

2. Memorial Day became a Federal Holiday in 1971.

3. The Southern States refused to honor Memorial Day until after World War I.

4. On January 19, 1999 Hawaii Senator Dan Inouye introduced Bill S 189 to the Senate, which proposes to restore the traditional day of observance of Memorial Day back to May 30th instead of the last Monday of May.

5. To help re-educate and remind Americans of the true meaning of Memorial Day, the "National Moment of Remembrance" resolution was passed on Dec 2000 which asks that at 3 p.m. local time, for all Americans "To voluntarily and informally observe in their own way a Moment of remembrance and respect, pausing from whatever they are doing for a moment of silence or listening to 'Taps."

Five memorable Memorial Day Quotes:

1. Decoration Day is the most beautiful of our national holidays.... The grim cannon have turned into palm branches, and the shell and shrapnel into peach blossoms.  -Thomas Bailey Aldrich

2. I have never been able to think of the day as one of mourning; I have never quite been able to feel that half-masted flags were appropriate on Decoration Day.  I have rather felt that the flag should be at the peak, because those whose dying we commemorate rejoiced in seeing it where their valor placed it.  We honor them in a joyous, thankful, triumphant commemoration of what they did.  -Benjamin Harrison

3. These heroes are dead.  They died for liberty - they died for us.  They are at rest.  They sleep in the land they made free, under the flag they rendered stainless, under the solemn pines, the sad hemlocks, the tearful willows, and the embracing vines.  They sleep beneath the shadows of the clouds, careless alike of sunshine or of storm, each in the windowless Place of Rest.  Earth may run red with other wars - they are at peace.  In the midst of battle, in the roar of conflict, they found the serenity of death.  I have one sentiment for soldiers living and dead:  cheers for the living; tears for the dead.  -Robert G. Ingersoll

4. Spirit, that made those heroes dare

To die, and leave their children free,

Bid Time and Nature gently spare

The shaft we raise to them and thee.

-Ralph Waldo Emerson

5.  Changing the date merely to create three-day weekends has undermined the very meaning of the day. No doubt, this has contributed a lot to the general public's nonchalant observance of Memorial Day.  -VFW (Veterans of Foreign Wars)

The VFW has fought to have Memorial Day be observed on May 30th since the idea of a three-day weekend makes the true meaning all but an afterthought for many citizens.

Philly2Philly.com wishes everybody a happy Memorial Day.  And, most importantly we would like to thank each and every veteran and current member of the Armed Forces for the sacrifices each of you have made for our great nation. 

Photo of Arlington National Cemetery from http://www.destination360.com