Attorney Rees Lloyd
May 26, 2012
What we Americans of this generation observe as “Memorial Day” was originally known as “Decoration Day.” Graves of soldiers who had given their lives in the Civil War were decorated with flowers to remember and honor their sacrifice. Later, the observance was renamed “Memorial Day,” to commemorate the sacrifice of all who died in all the wars.
Originally, Memorial Day was observed on May 30 of each year. It was intended as a day of solemn remembrance of those Americans who gave their lives, so that Americans of all generations might be free.
The greatest numbers of Americans called on to go to war to defend freedom was that generation whose childhood was of the Great Depression, and whose young adulthood was of World War II. More than 16-million Americans served in WWII. That generation came to be known as the “Greatest Generation.”
Memorial Day as observed by the Greatest Generation in the 40’s, 50’s, and until the late 60’s, was observed on the traditional date of May 30. Millions of Americans joined veterans to in public ceremonies, or decorated graves with Flags and flowers in all 125 National Veterans Cemeteries and tens of thousands of municipal and private cemeteries across the nation. On Memorial day, most Americans paused remembered those who gave their lives for freedom in an attitude of gratitude.
Much of that changed when the Greatest Generation was succeeded by the generation of the politically and culturally ultra-liberal/progressive 1960’s, often now referred to as the “Hippy Generation,” or “Flower Generation,” or more aptly the “Destructive Generation.” It was the generation of explosive growth of Liberal Progressive Big Government commencing with President Jack Kennedy and grown gargantuan under President Lyndon B. Johnson in what he called his “Great Society” (sic).
Memorial Day at what was the height of big government, at least until current President Barack Hussein Obama ascended to the presidency, was no longer celebrated on May 30. Instead, the Uniform Monday Holiday Act (Publ. L. 90-363) was adopted in 1968, providing Memorial Day would be observed on the third Monday of May.
This was not done to more firmly educate and impress on Americans the meaning of Memorial Day. Rather, it was done by big government in order to provide three-day holidays for the ever expanding number of federal government employees. Government employees in government unions in the states, counties, and cities, quickly followed suit, all receiving convenient three-day weekend holidays.
With the change to convenient three-day weekend Memorial Day holidays for government employees rather than the day actually intended, the meaning of Memorial Day also seemed to shift. Rather than being a day set aside for sober and often somber remembrance of the service and sacrifice of those who paid the ultimate price to preserve American freedom, Memorial Day began to be remembered as the beginning-of-summer holiday, a happy time to remember to buy and consume food and beverages and to make merry at the beach or elsewhere, free of such oppressive burdens as remembering those who purchased by their blood the freedom of Americans of this day.
Thus, on Memorial Day 2012, while most of the 23-million living American veterans, and millions of other patriots, will still hold ceremonies and observances honoring America’s war dead, the much greater number of millions of Americans will observe the day in disregard for the meaning of Memorial Day, opting for a day at the beach rather than a day remembrance of the sacrifice of veterans for freedom.
Others, beneficiaries of the liberal/progressive government education establishment, may not be selfishly disregarding the meaning of Memorial Day: They may actually be ignorant of what Memorial Day is really all about, and why it has meaning in sustaining the American culture, and American freedom.
Perhaps the creation such attitudes of cavalier disregard of the meaning of Memorial Day, or ignorance of it, by the liberal/progressive government school education establishment through brainwashing the young into liberal/progressive multi-cultural mutants denied knowledge of their own American heritage or taught to despise it as “racist,” “imperialist,” “greedy capitalist,” etc., etc, is best exemplified on Memorial Day 2012 by the sign in front of Hockinson High School, in liberal south Washington State just across the Columbia River from Portland, OR, the Principality of Liberal Progressive Political Correctness.
The sign at Hockinson High Taft Show advises the students, parents, and community: “No School Monday 28, May.”
That’s all: Just “No school.” No explanation of why there is “no school”? It’s just another day off, kids—no reason for good liberal/ progressive government teachers and education bureaucrats to bother you with knowledge of why it is a day off by writing “Memorial Day,” let alone teaching you what Memorial Day is really about. Or why you are free.
As politically incorrect as it may be, I must respectfully suggest that on Memorial Day ought to be on observed on Memorial Day, May 30, even if the poor, oppressed federal and other government employees are meaninfly deprived of convenient three-day holidays by the taxpayers off of whom they live.
Further, I respectfully suggest that Memorial Day should once again be observed as it was originally intended—to remember those who have given their lives for freedom, to reflect on their service and sacrifice, and contemplate that such service and sacrifice may once again be required to pay the price of freedom.
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In short, we Americans, all of us, owe a debt to the American who came before us, and by their military service, in which all gave some and some gave all, preserved freedom for us. We repay that debt to those Americans who came before us by our willingness serve and sacrifice as they did to preserve freedom for those Americans who will come after us.
May God bless and keep and each and every one of them. And may Americans never cease to remember them, and their sacrifice, for our freedom.
THOSE WHO DIED THAT WE MIGHT BE FREE:
American Wars Killed In Action
War .............. 25,324
War of 1812 .......................... 2,260
Mexican American War ..... 13,283
Civil War ............................... 650,000
Spanish American War ....... 7,166
World War I ......................... 116,708
World War II ....................... 408,306
Korean War ......................... 54,246
Vietnam War ....................... 58,223
Persian Gulf War ................ 363
Operation Iraqi Freedom .. 4,421
Op. Enduring Freedom ...... 1,972
All Other Conflicts since
the Revolutionary War ....... 8,330
jihadist terrorism . 3,336
Operation New Dawn ......... 66
TOTAL: ………….1,354,003 [plus 88,000 MIA]
is the soldier, not the reporter, who has given us freedom of the press.
It is the soldier, not the poet, who has given us freedom of speech.
It is the soldier, not the campus organizer, who has given us the freedom to demonstrate.
It is the soldier, not the lawyer, who has given us the right to fair trial.
It is the soldier, who salutes the flag, who serves under the flag, and whose coffin is draped by the flag, who allows the protester to burn the flag.
(Poem by Father Dennis Edward O’Brien)
© 2012 Rees Lloyd - All Rights Reserved
REES LLOYD is a longtime civil rights attorney and veterans activist whose work has been honored by, among others, the California Senate and Assembly, and numerous civil rights, workers rights, and veterans rights organizations. He has testified as a constitutional expert at hearings before the U.S. House and Senate representing The American Legion.
He has been profiled, and his work featured, by such varied print media as the Los Angeles Times and American Legion Magazine, and such broadcast media as ABC's Nightline and 20/20, Fox News In The Morning, and, among others, by Hannity. His writings have appeared in a variety of national, regional, and local newspaper, magazine, and other publications. He is a frequent radio commentator, and a sought after speaker.*
[*For identification only. The views expressed here are solely Rees Lloyd's and not necessarily any person, entity or organization he may otherwise represent. ]