Memorial Day, originally called Decoration Day, is a day of remembrance for those who have died in service of the United States of America. Over two dozen cities and towns claim to be the birthplace of Memorial Day. While Waterloo N.Y. was officially declared the birthplace of Memorial Day by President Lyndon Johnson in May 1966, it’s difficult to prove conclusively the origins of the day.
Regardless of the exact date or location of its origins, one thing is clear – Memorial Day was borne out of the Civil War and a desire to honor our dead. It was officially proclaimed on 5 May 1868 by General John Logan, national commander of the Grand Army of the Republic, in his General Order No. 11. “The 30th of May, 1868, is designated for the purpose of strewing with flowers, or otherwise decorating the graves of comrades who died in defense of their country during the late rebellion, and whose bodies now lie in almost every city, village and hamlet churchyard in the land,” he proclaimed. The date of Decoration Day, as he called it, was chosen because it wasn’t the anniversary of any particular battle.On the first Decoration Day, General James Garfield made a speech at Arlington National Cemetery, and 5,000 participants decorated the graves of the 20,000 Union and Confederate soldiers buried there.
The first state to officially recognize the holiday was New York in 1873. By 1890 it was recognized by all of the northern states. The South refused to acknowledge the day, honoring their dead on separate days until after World War I (when the holiday changed from honoring just those who died fighting in the Civil War to honoring Americans who died fighting in any war).
- The 30th day of May, 1868, is designated for the purpose of strewing with flowers or otherwise decorating the graves of comrades who died in defense of their country during the late rebellion, and whose bodies now lie in almost every city, village, and hamlet church-yard in the land. In this observance no form of ceremony is prescribed, but posts and comrades will in their own way arrange such fitting services and testimonials of respect as circumstances may permit.
JOHN A. LOGAN,
WM. T. COLLINS, A.A.G.
I am thankful for my own grandfathers, John S. Maney and F. Earl Shaffer, who fought in WWI.
I am thankful for my father, John F. Maney, and my uncle, W. Everett Jones, who fought in Europe during WWII.
I am thankful for my father-in-law, Donald E. Traylor, who served in Germany during the Korean War.
I am thankful for my dear friend and brother in Christ, John Falor, who fought in Vietnam, as well as my friends, Tod Tapola and Jim Lytle, who also fought there.
I am thankful for Colonel David Mullins who fought in Iraq.
I am thankful for Matt Collins, the son of my dear friends, Ann and Curt Collins, who served his country as a Marine.
Thank you all, and thank God for continuing to raise up men and women who are willing to serve and sacrifice for our country to keep us free.
Our nation will observe Memorial Day on a different day than we traditionally observed it until 1971—May 30. Thankfully our family did not lose anybody to war, although my grandfathers and dad fought in World War I and II respectively. So in addition to remembering those brave men and women who fought and died to preserve our country’s freedom, I have made this weekend a time for both remembering those in my family who have died and honoring them.
Since they are no longer living, I have decided that on my watch their graves will be well kept and in good repair. So my beloved wife and I go out and trim around the tombstones, rake the graves, clean them up, and put flowers on them for the summer. Doing so is a way for me to continue to honor them, both for being such a good family and for their service to our country.
It also reminds me of how fleeting and transient this mortal life is. When I was a kid, we’d spend Memorial Day at the lake at my grandparents Shaffer’s cottage with my extended family. It was a grand time and I have great memories of those halcyon days. Now I only have their graves to visit and I confess I liked it a whole lot better when I was able to be with them at the lake.
So Memorial Day is a bittersweet time for me. But as long as I am able, I will continue to honor my family on this holiday, in part, by caring for their grave sites. It is the least I can do considering all they did and sacrificed for me.
May you too find ways to honor and love your loved ones, especially if you are blessed enough to have them still be living.
Today would have been my mama’s 98th birthday, something she would have no doubt hated (besides COVID- 19, that is) if she were alive today (it was hard to grow old for one so young at heart). My mother was an exquisite role-model of motherhood. She loved me, spent time with me, loved me enough to instill what it meant to be a Maney, and disciplined me when I did not live up to that standard. I hated it at the time, but am grateful for it today. She allowed me to have a childhood that was second to none because she insisted that I be a kid and worked sacrificially to make that happen. In that regard, I have missed her presence these past 12 years. But I cannot be sad because I would rather her be where she is than to be here with me and struggling with illness and infirmity like she did in her last years (check out this reflection on grief and consolation over parents who have died).
Thank you mama, for being the mother you were. Thank you for all your sacrifice for me and for our family. Thank you for allowing me to grow up in a timely manner and not before it was my time to do so. Thank you for personifying sacrificial love for me. And thank you, dear God, for blessing me with the best parents a person could ever want or dream of having.
Happy birthday, mama. I love you. Enjoy your rest with the Lord who loves you and has claimed you from all eternity.
Rest eternal grant unto Margaret, O Lord, and let light perpetual shine upon her. May she, with all the faithful departed, through the mercy of God, rest in peace and RISE IN GLORY. Amen.
And for those of you whose mother is still living, make sure you remember your mama on Mothers’ Day this Sunday. Better yet, treat her like every day is Mothers’ Day. I know my mama would surely approve.
On this day in 1943 my dad, John F. Maney, was inducted into the army at the age of 20 (the tree in this picture under which dad sat is outside a house in Uffculme England that was used as battalion HQ. I have a picture of that tree 40 years later when dad and I visited in June 1984). A week later he left on a train from Van Wert, OH for Camp Perry on Lake Erie. What a way to start the decade of your 20s.
My dad died sixteen years ago today. It seems like he has been gone forever and while the pain of his death is no longer with me, I still miss him today as much as I did on that Monday sixteen years ago when I learned that he had died. I miss hearing his voice. I miss his sense of humor. I miss his wisdom. I miss his presence in our family. I miss playing catch with him. I miss him.
I am thankful God blessed me with a wonderful father for 50 years of my life. My dad remains my personal hero in so many ways, not least in the quality of his fatherhood and all that that entails. He handled the daunting tasks of shepherding his family, running a business, and being a community leader. He led his life with integrity and optimism, always the telltale marks of a faithful Christian. In his last years, he faced his physical infirmity with courage and dignity that was both inspiring and heartbreaking to watch. Remarkable. Simply remarkable.
Thank you for being my dad. Life’s not the same without you, papa. Never will be again. I’m glad you are enjoying your rest in the Lord and look forward to seeing you again someday, never again having to endure the emptiness of being apart from you. That’s a good thing because even this temporary separation seems like an eternity. Can’t imagine what the real thing must be like.
In the meantime, I’ll try to honor you and your legacy by how I comport myself. As mom used to remind me, I’ll do my best to remember who I am (and to Whom I belong).
I love you, papa.
Today is George Washington’s birthday. He would be 288 years old! To our great detriment, Americans are forgetting about our first president. This is sad, in part, because without him, there would not likely be the USA that we know today. Do yourself a favor and learn about this extraordinary man with whom God blessed this country.
To the world’s amazement, Washington had prevailed over the more numerous, better supplied, and fully trained British army, mainly because he was more flexible than his opponents. He learned that it was more important to keep his army intact and to win an occasional victory to rally public support than it was to hold American cities or defeat the British army in an open field. Over the last 200 years revolutionary leaders in every part of the world have employed this insight, but never with a result as startling as Washington’s victory over the British.
On December 23, 1783, Washington presented himself before Congress in Annapolis, Maryland, and resigned his commission. Like Cincinnatus, the hero of Classical antiquity whose conduct he most admired, Washington had the wisdom to give up power when he could have been easily become dictator. He left Annapolis and went home to Mount Vernon with the fixed intention of never again serving in public life. This one act, without precedent in modern history, made him an international hero.
In the years after the Revolutionary War, Washington devoted most of his time to rebuilding Mount Vernon, which had suffered in his absence. He experimented with new crops and fertilizers and bred some of the finest mules in the nation. He also served as president of the Potomac Company, which worked to improve the navigation of the river in order to make it easier for upstream farmers to get their produce to market.
Washington’s Birthday was celebrated on February 22nd until well into the 20th Century. However, in 1968 Congress passed the Monday Holiday Law to “provide uniform annual observances of certain legal public holidays on Mondays.” By creating more 3-day weekends, Congress hoped to “bring substantial benefits to both the spiritual and economic life of the Nation.”
One of the provisions of this act changed the observance of Washington’s Birthday from February 22nd to the third Monday in February. Ironically, this guaranteed that the holiday would never be celebrated on Washington’s actual birthday, as the third Monday in February cannot fall any later than February 21.