Memorial Day: The Importance of Remembering

May 26, 2008


Thanks for taking a break from your holiday festivities to check out what’s cookin’ here at on this Memorial Day holiday!

We thought it would be best on this day to share reminders of how the holiday came to be, and of what it was, in fact, established to commemorate.

For the holiday today, we may have traveled some distance to enjoy the company of family and friends; now, we may go the barbeque/four-wheeler/fishing/boating/picnicking/Branson route—trying to squeeze every bit of excitement we can out of these precious moments away from the daily grind!

But before Memorial Day was transformed, over time, into the boisterous, advent-of-spring celebration it has become, it was observed exclusively in honor of fallen U.S. servicemembers whose ultimate sacrifice made today’s celebrations possible.

Many readers probably have memories of the more solemn community traditions that once marked this holiday throughout the country. Happily, traditional observances have endured in many quarters, perhaps especially in smaller hamlets and towns. Such commemorations provide an excellent opportunity for reflection upon the cost of the freedom we breathe here, freedom that invites us always to try and build original lives of quality, meaning, and service.

Here are some links to nifty Memorial Day info of various types:

An excellent account of a series of unrelated, but similar, American traditions born in the wake of the Civil War; these constituted the origins of Memorial Day.

A look at how one organization in Columbia, Missouri has re-established the original focus of Memorial Day.

Same organization as the one above—but their History Page really warrants a gander. I especially liked its reference to an incident at a flight demonstration arranged by the group. In a dramatic historic recreation, a plane featured black smoke billowing from one wing—which was not really a problem until a “little old lady” called the law to report that a plane had been shot down over the local courthouse.

Malden Army Airfield Preservation Society’s “Memories of Malden” webpage.  A rich history-in-progress featuring memories from people connected with Malden Army Air Field and Malden Air Base.

Info on Malden Army Airfield Preservation Society’s Honor Wall—take a look!

Lots of material in brief sections on Memorial Day history, and the day’s attendant activities.

Did you know that at 3 p.m. on Memorial Day, we are all encouraged to observe a National Moment of Remembrance in honor of our war dead? Click on to the link to find out more!

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ON THE LIGHTER SIDE: Below, material on the Kansas City Dawn Patrol, a group of gonzo fly-guys who give of their time and talent in air shows commemorating, among other events, today’s holiday. As it happens, these people are very, very funny.

Brief descriptions of Dawn Patrol members—guys who build and fly “replica warbirds”, such as those manufactured by the Nieuport aviation concern in World War I France.

About halfway down this FAQ-page of technical gobbledy-gook, it gets hysterical. One guy writes that spending weekends fighting WWI over and over again at Liberty, Missouri’s airport is the most fun he’s had in years without having to take his clothes off.

Perhaps you’ll take a moment to click on to some of the sites above—if not today, then soon, so that you’ll never be caught in the position of one schoolchild who was reportedly asked about the meaning of Memorial Day, and responded:

“Isn’t that when the swimming pools open?”

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