Monday, May 25, 2009

Thoughts on Memorial Day

History of Memorial Day: Three years after the Civil War ended, on May 5, 1868, the head of an organization of Union veterans — the Grand Army of the Republic (GAR) — established Decoration Day as a time for the nation to decorate the graves of the war dead with flowers. May 30th was chosen for Decoration Day because it was believed that flowers would be in bloom all across the country.

On Memorial Day the flag should be flown at half-staff from sunrise until noon only, then raised briskly to the top of the staff until sunset, in honor of the nation’s battle heroes. In the early days of our country, no regulations existed for flying the flag at half-staff and, as a result, there were many conflicting policies. But on March 1, 1954, President Dwight Eisenhower issued a proclamation on the proper times.

You will notice in the collage above, that the flag is flying at half-staff. Those pictures were taken during our visit to the American Cemetary in Normandy, France. It was very moving seeing row after row of graves. For more pictures from our visit to Normandy, see my previous posts on the topic and also our cruise vacations website.

I've mentioned several times in the past about the opportunity to relive history while on a cruise vacation. This is especially true in Europe due to the large battle field from the World Wars. Whether your cruise vacation takes you to Normandy, France or Honolulu, Hawaii, please take some time to visit a historical site and pay your respects to the troops that fought to keep America strong. We have done so on several cruises and of all the trips we've taken, those tend to stand out in my mind. Don't forget to bring you children with you so that they too can learn about war first hand.

As Albert Schweitzer said "... Wargraves are the great communicators of peace ..." Perhaps another more striking quote was by George Santayanan who said "Those who cannot learn from history are doomed to repeat it."

And who can forget those immortal words of President John F. Kennedy: "And so, my fellow Americans: ask not what your country can do for you - ask what you can do for your country. My fellow citizens of the world: ask not what America will do for you, but what together we can do for the freedom of man. "

To the brave men and women, living and deceased, who have taken President Kennedy's charge to heart, Thank You for your Service. May we never forget the sacrifices you have made.

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