Today is Memorial Day, and in an hour or so, I’ll be doing the quintessential Memorial Day activity: hosting a cookout with friends on a beautiful, summery evening. But before I do, I wanted to take a minute to acknowledge something that may go unnoticed today – the fact that this holiday exists because individuals thought of the idea and then MADE IT HAPPEN.
According to this great article from the Washington Post, the first official observance of Memorial Day was May 28, 1868, when flowers were placed on the graves of Union and Confederate soldiers at Arlington National Cemetery. According to the Department of Veterans Affairs:
The ceremonies centered around the mourning-draped veranda of the Arlington mansion . . . Various Washington officials, including Gen. and Mrs. Ulysses S. Grant, presided over the ceremonies. After speeches, children from the Soldiers’ and Sailors’ Orphan Home and members of the GAR [Grand Army of the Republic] made their way through the cemetery, strewing flowers on both Union and Confederate graves, reciting prayers and singing hymns.
I think it’s touching to consider the beautiful flower-strewn tribute that these individuals created. They didn’t have to. No one told them to, and it didn’t just show up on the calendar. They were actually moved by patriotism and their first-hand experience with war and loss to DO something.
It makes me want to think of ways I can help to MAKE THINGS HAPPEN. When the world seems to be in constant turmoil, it can be easy to want to duck and cover, rather than to pray and hope and look for creative solutions and speak about possibilities . . . but let’s do it. Let’s remember and honor and celebrate and learn and improve. What in your life moves you to walk forward, strew flowers, recite prayers, and sing hymns about it? Will you?