Friday, July 25, 2014

Remembering May 30 as traditional Memorial Day

6/4/2014

When I was a little kid and continuing well into my adulthood, I would accompany my parents to various cemeteries in various U.S. states on, or about, May 30 of those years to place flowers on graves of family and friends. My parents called it “Decoration Day,” but it later became known by its current name, “Memorial Day,” in 1967, with the federal law taking effect in 1971. My family placed flowers on the graves of all family members, regardless of whether they served in the armed forces. It is a day of remembrance for all, but more especially to honor those military personnel who died while serving. The flowers decorate the graves to show that the honored dead are never forgotten.

We have just passed the “observed Memorial Day” which occurs on the last Monday in May to enable federal workers and others to have a three-day holiday. While this is all well and good, I still remember May 30 as the real and traditional date. The late U.S. Sen. Daniel Inouye, D-Hawaii, introduced resolutions for more than 25 years in Congress to restore the original date, but it never succeeded.

When I was a little kid and continuing well into my adulthood, I would accompany my parents to various cemeteries in various U.S. states on, or about, May 30 of those years to place flowers on graves of family and friends. My parents called it “Decoration Day,” but it later became known by its current name, “Memorial Day,” in 1967, with the federal law taking effect in 1971. My family placed flowers on the graves of all family members, regardless of whether they served in the armed forces. It is a day of remembrance for all, but more especially to honor those military personnel who died while serving. The flowers decorate the graves to show that the honored dead are never forgotten.

We have just passed the “observed Memorial Day” which occurs on the last Monday in May to enable federal workers and others to have a three-day holiday. While this is all well and good, I still remember May 30 as the real and traditional date. The late U.S. Sen. Daniel Inouye, D-Hawaii, introduced resolutions for more than 25 years in Congress to restore the original date, but it never succeeded.

The Sunday preceding Memorial Day is the Indianapolis 500 car race in Indiana. I have personally driven the famous track in my private vehicle on the one day each year that track officials allow it. It was quite a thrill. That was in 2006.

This year, I watched actor and singer Jim Nabors sing his final performance of “Back Home in Indiana,” which he first sung at the pre-race festivities in 1972. LeAnn Rimes sang the National Anthem and Catholic Bishop Christopher Coyne gave one of the most inspirational invocations I have ever heard.

His prayer was heartfelt and sums up the feelings of most Americans, as to the rich traditions of the holiday — whether it is the observed date or the traditional date of May 30. The Bishop prayed, “Thank you. God speed and God bless America.”

James A. Marples,

Longview, Texas

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