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Memorial Day means more than barbecues and the start to summer PDF Print E-mail
Written by Darci Tomky   

For many, Memorial Day is a symbol of backyard barbecues, sales at the shopping mall and the official start to summer. But really, what should Americans be paying tribute to on this May holiday, besides, of course, a day off work?

The origins of Memorial Day date back to the 1860s and the Civil War when the graves of Union and Confederate soldiers were decorated—hence Decoration Day, the original name of the holiday.

General John A. Logan brought popularity to the commemorative practice, declaring the first Decoration Day to be May 30, 1868.

In the next few decades, all of the northern states adopted the holiday while the southern states refused, honoring their dead on different days.

Following World War I, the May 30 Decoration Day transformed from a time to remember the Civil War to a day honoring Americans who have died in all wars.

The name Memorial Day was first used in 1882, but did not become common until after World War II, becoming the official name in 1967.

As much as the working public enjoys the three-day weekend associated with Memorial Day, many think it diminishes the significance of the original May 30 date.

Memorial Day was moved to the last Monday in May when Congress passed a bill in 1968 to make convenient three-day weekends for Memorial Day, Veterans Day and Washington’s Birthday.

In an effort to not forget the original meaning of Memorial Day, the “National Moment of Remembrance” resolution was passed in 2000. At 3 p.m. on Monday, Americans should “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.’”

Holyoke will be honoring fallen soldiers Monday morning, May 30 at 11 a.m. at Holyoke Memorial Park.

American flags placed at cemetery graves will proudly recognize over 300 community soldiers, sailors, airmen and marines who are buried in Holyoke.

These veterans served in the Civil War, World War I, World War II, Korean conflict, Vietnam and Spanish-American War.

A tribute to the Phillips County soldiers

who died while in service to their country

Leland Anderson
Charles Andes
Marion Brown
Walter Block
William Beckman
Gordon C. Garland
Arnold Heermann
Samuel Jinkens
William Kramer
Harold Kerschner
James Lindsey
Wesley M. Moon
Richard Owens
Wesley Siedenburg
Howard Thomas
Erwin Weber
John Zeiler Jr.

Did you know?

Out of the 4.7 million Americans who served in World War I, the last living U.S. veteran died just a few months ago. Frank Buckles passed away Feb. 27, 2011 at the age of 110.

Buckles was one of the youngest to serve in WWI, joining the Army at 16 years old in 1917 (after claiming to be a couple years older and not giving up after rejection for being underage, underweight and flat-footed). He served as an ambulance driver along the Western Front, which might have been less dangerous than the trench warfare but was nevertheless a risky and  exhausting job.

After surviving the first great war, decades later the Missouri native barely came out alive after his three-year stay at the infamous World War II Los Baños prison camp in the Philippines.

Buckles, along with millions of other Americans, will be remembered and honored this Memorial Day for his brave service to this country.

Holyoke Enterprise May 26, 2011