This coming Monday we celebrate Memorial Day. Originally called Decoration Day, this federal holiday dates back to just after the Civil War, as a way to remember and honor both Union and Confederate soldiers who were killed in battle during the Civil War. In 1868 the 30th of May was officially proclaimed as the day to decorate Civil War graves. After WWI Memorial Day was extended to honor Americans who died in all wars. Today most Americans use this holiday as a time to decorate any grave site, whether the deceased served in the military or not. In addition, Memorial Day traditionally marks the beginning of summer.
Memorial Day was declared a U.S. federal holiday in 1971 and is now observed the last Monday in May. In December 2000 the National Moment of Remembrance resolution was passed, which asks all Americans to pause at 3:00 p.m. local time and reflect on the meaning of Memorial Day.
Not as widely known, at least to me, is that the entire month of May is Military Appreciation Month.
Military Appreciation Month was officially designated by Congress in 1999 to remind Americans to celebrate this patriotic month that pays tribute to those who have made sacrifices for our freedom.
Although the entire month of May is designated to honor military members and their families, past and present, several specific military holidays occur throughout the month of May. In 2022 these military holiday dates are Loyalty Day (1 May), Military Spouse Appreciation Day (6 May/the Friday before Mother’s Day), Mother’s Day (8 May), VE Day (8 May), Armed Forces Day (21 May), and Memorial Day (30 May).
Most area towns will have a Memorial Day ceremony at local cemetery, conducted by the local American Legion and/or VFW, who also mark all veterans’ graves with an American flag. A big Thank You to all those volunteers. Many towns also have a Memorial Day parade.
Proper flag etiquette on Memorial Day: The American flag should be flown at half-staff until noon and then raised to full-staff. During a parade there may be several participants with a flag and it is appropriate to salute only the first flag as it passes by. As the first flag passes everyone should show respect by standing at attention with their right hand over their heart. Those in uniform should give their appropriate formal salute.
On Monday the Willshire Memorial Day parade will begin at 9:30 a.m. and proceed to the Willshire Cemetery for a Memorial Service. Following that service the parade will proceed to the bridge for a memorial service for service men and women who lost their lives at sea. Willshire Home Furnishings’ Military Museum will be open from 9 a.m.-6 p.m. Saturday, Sunday, and Monday.
In addition, the village of Willshire continues to celebrate its 2022 Bicentennial. They are hosting a Reenactment Day on Saturday, 28 May. A time-period camp will be located by the river, behind the Legion, from 9 a.m.-5 p.m. Activities include a cannon firing at 9 a.m., interaction with camp residents, cooking and weaving demonstrations, children’s games, and more.
Wishing everyone a nice Memorial Day as we honor those who have served our country.