It’s Memorial Day.
At the Welcome Center outside Arlington National Cemetery more than 140,000 roses are ready to be distributed in honor of all veterans. They are donated by Californian and Ecuadorian rose growers.
A bit of history comes via the Arlington National Cemetery Facebook page:
Three years after the Civil War ended on May 5, 1868, the commander-in-chief of the Grand Army of the Republic established Decoration Day as a time for the nation to decorate the graves of the war dead with flowers. Maj. Gen. John A. Logan declared that Decoration Day should be observed on May 30. The first official observance was held that year at Arlington National Cemetery. In January 1971 with the passage of the “Monday Holiday Law,” the observance of Memorial Day is changed from May 30 to the last Monday in May.
Yours truly is old enough that she remembers occasionally hearing it referred to as Decoration Day.
Many of the ceremonial duties actually take place ahead of the actual holiday, so that places of remembrance are ready to receive visitors. On Thursday soldiers of the 3rd U.S. Infantry “The Old Guard” distributed more than 200,000 flags on graves at Arlington. The Soldiers perform the “flags in” ceremony each year before Memorial Day weekend, a solemn time when each white marble headstone is decorated with a flag.
The rows seem to go on forever.
On Thursday Technician 1st Class Tracy Rio placed flags at gravesites in Marysville, Washington.
In Ohio, young and old prepared for visitors.
At Cypress Hills National Cemetery in Brooklyn you can see Boy Scout Daniel Perez, 11, of New York, setting flags at the veterans’ graves. Boy Scouts, Girl Scouts and other volunteers helped decorate the headstones.
At Georgia National Cemetery the flags were also distributed on Saturday. You can see a picture of U.S. Marine Lance Cpl. Corey Allen Little placed at his tombstone. He was killed while training for deployment to Afghanistan.
At Arlington West in Santa Monica the flags are set upon the beach.
Ceremonies are held at American Cemeteries around the world. At the Henri-Chapelle American Cemetery in Belgium services of remembrance were on Saturday.
Below you see Tony Garza (left) and his brother Jose Garza. They visited their father’s gravesite on Friday; Manuel Garza served in WWII.
In Kentucky retired Navy Commander Greg Black gives the keynote address at the Glenn Family Services Memorial Day on Saturday.
At Fort Snelling in Minneapolis more than 600 donated flags are in place.
On Boston Commons it is a sea of flags, placed by the Massachusetts Military Heroes Fund in memory of every fallen Massachusetts service member from the Civil War to the present.
The annual Rolling Thunder rumbled into Washington DC yesterday.
It’s estimated there were as many as 26,000 motorcycles involved in this year’s events.
It’s so easy for me to become focused on the day’s tasks: running errands, helping The Consort paint the mud room, planting in the garden, enjoying the (finally) warm weather. Too easy to forget the Memorial part of Memorial Day. But at 3pm we will stop for the National Moment of Remembrance, to think about the sacrifices made so I can garden and paint and watch the baseball game.
Today’s post is in honor of those who didn’t make it back, and those who came back not entirely whole.