When I was a child national holidays were scattered all through the week. The fell on the date of the anniversary being commemorated. Then the idea of standardizing holidays on the Monday closest to the anniversary become widespread. Now holidays are convenient. But, something has been lost. For my father, and his generation of World War II veterans VE Day [Victory in Europe] and VJ Day [Victory in Japan] were vivid days. Memorial Day is a bit different because it began as a wide variety of individual days when individual communities and states marked their Civil War losses. They were days when the graves of veterans were marked with wreaths and flags and flowers. It was even called Decoration Day. In Virginia it was tied to a June 9th battle, In Waterloo, New York, May 5, etc. etc. . But when the holiday began to consolidate on May 30, supposedly that date was chosen because it was NOT a battle anniversary making it more inclusive.
[since 1911] and the Coca-Cola Classic 600 [since 1960]]. I still remember when the name changed officially to Memorial Day [in 1967!].
So what are teachers to do? What are parents to say when explaining why there is a "holiday" today? I would hope that we can separate memorializing war from memorializing people who meant so much to those who loved them. When we see the aging and young veterans marching or see the flags on gravestones, we are not honoring war we are honoring people. Besides... even if you take the view that the day is to remember war, maybe remembering war better will help us work to create peace. So, maybe this is a combo school bell history point and soapbox today, but such as it is, those are my thoughts today.
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