Monday, May 30, 2011

Memorial Day 2011

Memorial Day is a day of remembrance for those who have died in our nation's service. The holiday was officially proclaimed May 5, 1868, by General John Logan, national commander of the Grand Army of the Republic, and was first observed May 30, 1868, when flowers were placed on the graves of Union and Confederate soldiers at Arlington National Cemetery. The first state to officially recognize the holiday was New York in 1873. It is now celebrated in almost every state on the last Monday in May (passed by Congress with the National Holiday Act of 1971).

Here in Othello, the local VFW places small flags on the graves of each veteran at the cemetery. They also line the edge of the grounds with large casket-size flags, many of which were donated by family members of veterans. My sister’s flag flies among those. She served in the Army in the mid-1960s.

The photo above is one I took in 2004. My husband Eric coordinates the flag flying at the cemetery and spends the day there – in uniform – to answer questions and help visitors find the graves of their relatives buried there. The little girl was running around pulling flags out of the ground and having a great time. Rather than having to continuously replace them, Eric offered her a flag of her own. You can see the look of delight on her face!

This is one of my favorite photos I’ve taken through the years. I love the contrast of ages between Eric and the toddler, especially against the patriotic background. It’s truly one of those pictures that say a thousand words!

Eric is now retired from the service, having spent 40 years in uniform. He started in the active Army during the Vietnam War and served two tours of duty there. Afterward, he was a member of the reserves, both Army and Air Force, then joined the National Guard. The last years of his service were with the Washington State Guard, which is the third line of defense in our state.

Of course, he doesn’t see these many years of giving to his country as a “big deal,” but we are all very proud of his service.

I’d like to share a poem I found, which was written by Roger W. Hancock, who is known as the Poet Patriot. You can read more of his poetry at

Freedom's Colors
Red is for Bravery;
blood shed in sacrifice.
Freedom came with lives the price.
White is for Liberty;
freedom's purity.
Life be free from God's decree.
Blue is for Justice;
as vast as the sky.
Over freedom's land to occupy.
If you have a few moments to spare, visit your local cemetery and walk through the gravesites of the veterans. Take the time to bow your head and thank them for their service to our country. Without them, we would not enjoy the freedoms we have today.

1 comment:

Julie @ Read Handed said...

Beautiful picture and post. Thanks to your husband and sister for their service.