Dear Editor:

 

WHAT IS MEMORIAL DAY ANYWAY???  Except that all city, county, state and federal offices are closed and the employees have a holiday.  Really!

 

Memorial Day was originally called Decoration Day and was celebrated on several different days.  The 30th of May 1868, was designated for the purpose of strewing flowers, or otherwise decorating the graves of comrades who died in defense of their country.  This was a day borne out of the Civil War to honor those who had lost their lives in those battles.  This day, Decoration Day, was officially proclaimed on 5 May, 1868, by General John Logan, national commander of the Grand Army of the Republic, in his "General Order No. 11".  The 30th of May was chosen because it wasn't the anniversary of any particular battle.

 

This date was observed on May 30, no matter what day of the week it fell on, until 1971 when with Congressional passage of the National Holiday Act, the day was changed to the last Monday in May.  This helped ensure a three day weekend for Federal holidays.

 

When my oldest son was about 5 or 6, we were visiting in Kansas on Decoration Day.  That morning, my Dad took our son to the cemetery  so he could see the ceremony and explain why this day was important.  My Dad was in the US Army in WW II and served overseas.

 

We have several family members who have served,-past and present, in the military.  My Dad (US Army - WW II), husband (USAF Guard), son (US Army Guard), 2 grandsons (USAF Reserve), grandson (US Army Guard-Afghanistan), a cousin (US Army-died in Viet Nam), brother-in-law (US Army-Korea), 2 brothers-in-law (US Army) and brother-in-law (US Navy).  

 

The following is not my remembrance, but  of a person I've never met; however, I believe it's noteworthy:

 

"Nobody said a word.  At 9 am, after homeroom, our teachers nodded at us.  Then each student in the school filed downstairs to the quad in complete silence.  Not a word was spoken.  This was our tradition at South Gate Junior High School in 1949.  At the quad, everybody stood at complete attention.  First the glee club sang "Danny Boy" in three-part harmony.  Next, one of the trumpet players from the band played "Taps".  At the end, the principal paid tribute to the fallen heroes.  Following this, everyone filed back to their classrooms in silence.

 

It was so impressive that each and every one of those boys and girls was able to sustain this reverent silence year after year.  There was no giggling, no pushing, no shoving - just teenagers filing downstairs, remembering in their hearts just what Memorial Day stands for.  I think the boy or girl who ventured to utter a sound would have been completely ostracized.

 

This was soon after World War II, and I imagine that many of the boys and girls - and teachers too - had suffered losses during that long, painful war.  But although we were just ages 12 through 15, we had the maturity to honor this special day in complete silence.  I can't help but wonder, so many years later, if Memorial Day at South Gate Junior High School is still honored by the complete and respectful silence of the boys and girls".

 

Our schools are generally out before May 30, so having an assembly such as the above, would never be possible; however, the schools should teach about it.

 

Memorial Day used to be a day when families gathered to put flowers on graves of deceased loved one who were in the military,  to honor their lives serving in defense of our great country.  Of course, we also put flowers on other family member's graves to honor their lives.

 

In case you are not aware, there is a ceremony conducted at the War Memorial in Shannon Springs Park every year honoring those lives given so that we can be free.  I for one am very grateful for every person who serves, or has served, in the military..

 

I believe that somewhere in the last 50 years, we have failed to teach our children the meaning of this holiday. Most people think it's a time to go to the lake or some other form of recreation, have a day off from work, even though not everybody has that day off, and never give a thought to what the day represents.

 

God has blessed this country beyond measure.  I also believe that leaving God out of the majority of decisions made for this country, and our own lives, will be our downfall.  I pray every day for this country and it's leaders.

 

I hope you will remember, on May 30, what Memorial Day is really all about!

 

Jeanie Singleton, 

Chickasha 

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