Sunday, May 30, 2010

May 30

Today... May 30th... used to be the date we observed Memorial Day, the traditional day set aside to honor and remember our war dead.  Some history (emphasis mine):
The alternative name of "Memorial Day" was first used in 1882. It did not become more common until after World War II, and was not declared the official name by Federal law until 1967. On June 28, 1968, the United States Congress passed the Uniform Holidays Bill, which moved three holidays from their traditional dates to a specified Monday in order to create a convenient three-day weekend. The holidays included Washington's Birthday, now celebrated as Presidents' Day; Veterans Day and Memorial Day. The change moved Memorial Day from its traditional May 30 date to the last Monday in May. The law took effect at the federal level in 1971.


Traditional observance of Memorial Day has diminished over the years. Many Americans nowadays have forgotten the meaning and traditions of Memorial Day. At many cemeteries, the graves of the fallen are increasingly ignored, neglected. Most people no longer remember the proper flag etiquette for the day. While there are towns and cities that still hold Memorial Day parades, many have not held a parade in decades. Some people think the day is for honoring any and all dead, and not just those fallen in service to our country.


To help re-educate and remind Americans of the true meaning of Memorial Day, the "National Moment of Remembrance" resolution was passed in December 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."

The Moment of Remembrance is a step to return the meaning back to the day: set aside one day out of the year for the nation to get together to remember, reflect and honor those who have given their all in service to their country.

But what may be needed to return the solemn, and even sacred, spirit back to Memorial Day is for a return to its traditional day of observance. Many feel that when Congress made the day into a three-day weekend in with the National Holiday Act of 1971, it made it all the easier for people to be distracted from the spirit and meaning of the day. As the VFW stated in its 2002 Memorial Day address: "Changing the date, merely to create three-day weekends, has undermined the very meaning of the day. No doubt, this has contributed greatly to the general public's nonchalant observance of Memorial Day."

On January 19, 1999, Sen. Dan Inouye introduced Senate Bill 189 that proposed to restore the traditional day of observance of Memorial Day back to May 30 instead of "the last Monday in May." On April 19, 1999, Rep. Jaret Gibbons introduced House Resolution 1474. The bills were referred to the Judiciary Committee and the Committee on Government Reform.
I'm all for reinstating the traditional date for observing Memorial Day, which would be a good beginning for restoring the solemn and sacred spirit of our observance rituals and ceremonies.  I don't have anything against barbecues, baseball games, beer drinking or three-day weekends.  It's that I'm FOR a special dedicated day... not a generic three day weekend... wherein we honor our war dead.  Those that made the ultimate sacrifice deserve no less.

Is that too much to ask?


  1. Excellent post. I couldn't agree more. Unfortunately for most Americans it means the beginning of summer and 25% off at the Memorial Day Madness sale.

  2. I'm with you, Buck. But, you probably could have guessed that.

    Now, where's my spatula?

    WV: burgrot. Is this the word for what happened to Detroit?

  3. Buck, Great post. I agree that a single holiday on May 30 would serve the actual purpose better than the three day sale and cookout with no real meaning we have now. I wasn't aware of the 3:00 moment of silent remembrance but I did it anyway since I was working on a Memorial Day post myself.

  4. American will always love war. Maybe the 3-day weekend inspired us to invade Grenada, Panama, Cuba, Iraq and Afghanistan. We should leave it alone, if it inspires us to further war.

  5. Anon1, Andy, and Dan: Thanks.

    Anon2: re: American will always love war. You're full of shit, you don't know your history, and you're a troll. Other than that? Thanks for commenting.

  6. Thanks to America, Iraq now has its own Pearl Harbor. If you think Pearl Harbor veterans have a long memory, you can't even imagine an Arab memory.

  7. Buck - I'm embarrassed to say that I did not know much of what I read here today.

    Very embarrassed.

    That said - I've never had a jones to go to a Memorial Day White Sale. Ever. It's just wrong on every level. So is the companion Veteran's Day Car Sale and others of that same kind.

    It's the primary reason I don't ever want to see 9/11 become a National Holiday - because then the date will move to give another 3 day weekend to the masses and another excuse to retailers for a sale.

    It's all just so inappropriate.

  8. The holiday has a long tradition in our town - sort of sacred, community and Chamber of Commerce all rolled into one. I'm hoping the tradition will survive into the next decade as our older folks leave us one by one.

    Good to be reminded about the 3PM moment of private commemoration. Thanks, Buck.

  9. Looks like we were on the same page this year!!!

    I remember when they made Memorial Day a floating holiday - it was the beginning of the end of the meaning of the day.

    But, some of us die hards, just hang in there anyway!

  10. Anon sez: Thanks to America, Iraq now has its own Pearl Harbor.

    Back again, are we? Or are you a different troll? It seems like you've forgotten this lil vignette. OTOH, you may be choosing to ignore it. There are probably ten to 15 Iraqis who consider the coalition's invasion of their country as D-Day for every ONE who views it as Pearl Harbor. And you're STILL a troll.

    Kris: It's never too late to learn now, is it?

    Bec: The first link worked for me! But thanks for the second one, too. It's VERY gratifying to see a community that still remembers and honors the fallen.

    Cynthia: We ARE on the same page. ;-)

  11. "Is it too much to ask?" Simple answer: No.

    Anon: The Iraqis may have a semblance of a "Pearl Harbor," but we now also have a 9/11. And Buck's right -- you're still a troll. Maybe a troll who digs burquas.

  12. Great idea, to return the holiday to its original date. Great idea. Same should be done for Veteran's Day, for that matter - and even, perhaps, returning Veteran's Day to some semblance of its original intent, to honor an armistice.

  13. "There are probably ten to 15 Iraqis who consider the coalition's invasion of their country as D-Day"

    I'm thinking 5464 dead GI's would disagree with that number. I don't think 10 to 15 Arabs could kill that many GI's??


Just be polite... that's all I ask.