From a very young age, Memorial Day held a special place in my life. Looking back, it was another family tradition. I remember my Mom and Dad taking me and my siblings to several cemeteries to decorate our relatives’ graves. There was a lot of preparation that went into it.
My youngest recollection was when I was probably 5 or 6 years old. First, Mom showed me how to cut lilacs from the bushes. Then, we put them in soup cans that she saved for this special occasion. I remember cutting so many lilacs that I couldn’t reach the ones that were left!
Then, she had us fill empty milk jugs with water to fill up the cans with the lilacs at the cemetery… And we would water any other flowers that needed it while we were there, too.
My favorite part of our Memorial Day tradition was Mom and Dad telling stories about the people as we place flags and lilacs on their graves.
I remember my Dad would get choked up and his voice would crackle as he talked about how much he loved this country. He’d turn away to wipe his tears because he was filled with so much emotion when he saw the American flag waving in the breeze. He served in the U.S. Army and the stories were never ending!
Pride for the American flag…
My Dad loved holidays that involve the American flag. One of my fondest memories about this was when he was nearing the end of his life. Mom told me that they were driving on the road that runs behind my home as they were going to drop some things off at my brother’s house–he lives just a few blocks north of me.
Dad turned to Mom and said, “Karla, I love driving on this road. There are only two beautiful American flags always flying—and both of them are at my kid’s homes.” He was so proud.
We were taught how to fold the flag and how to respect it. All of his children proudly fly the American flag. And, I’m proud to be passing these traditions on to my son.
Did you know that Memorial Day was previously known as Decoration Day?
It’s an observed federal holiday in the United States for honoring and mourning the military personnel who have died in performing their military duties while serving in the United States Armed Forces.
And, did you know the holiday was formerly observed on May 30 from 1868 to 1970? Now, it’s always the last Monday in May.
Many people visit cemeteries and memorials on Memorial Day to honor and mourn those who died while serving in the U.S. Military. And, numerous volunteers place an American flag on graves of military personnel in national cemeteries.
Memorial Day is also considered the unofficial start of summer in the United States. So at my house, we like to kick it off with a traditional barbeque!
Today, and every day, we give thanks to all those who have made the greatest sacrifice in serving. May we give pause to honor and cherish all they have done for us to live in this great nation.
What are your Memorial Day traditions?
I’d love to know and see how you celebrate! Comment below and/or post a picture of your tradition!