Monday, May 28th is Memorial Day. As veterans organizations host local ceremonies throughout the country, I thought it appropriate to share with you the history behind this day.
Three years after the Civil War ended, Major General John A. Logan declared that Decoration Day should be observed on May 30th. It's likely he picked that time because flowers would be in bloom all over the United States. In his order, General Logan directed his troops to decorate the graves of fallen soldiers "with the choicest flowers of springtime."
Memorial Day ceremonies were being held on May 30 throughout the country by the end of the 19th century and were expanded after World War I to honor those from all wars in which Americans gave their lives.
It was declared a national holiday by Congress in 1971 and moved to the last Monday of the month of May.
On Thursday, the Michigan Senate held its 18th Annual Memorial Day Service to honor the men and women of our armed forces who have paid the ultimate sacrifice. Standing before the fully-assembled Senate, a Marine Corporal told his compelling, personal story of being severely injured in Iraq by a hand grenade and of the emotional, physical and mental pain and anguish of his long recovery.
But he experienced the greatest pain over the loss of 3 of his fellow marines and spoke of how he, despite his injuries, was grateful to be alive.
Hearing his story is a sober reminder of how grateful we all should be for the life and the liberties we have because of the selfless sacrifice of soldiers, sailors, airmen and marines, past and present.
Memorial Day brings us all together in unity for a common purpose, to honor and recognize those who have paid the ultimate sacrifice. So this weekend, please take some time to do this by attending a local ceremony.
"The choicest flowers of springtime" means more than simply flowers placed on a grave on this day. It embodies keeping these fallen heroes, their families, and all present service members in our thoughts and our prayers, and living in a way that pays tribute to their legacy and their sacrifice, each and every day.