Educational Editorial: Meaning of Memorial Day

By Dr. Bill Bosher, NBC12 Educational Specialist

RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) - Well, it is Memorial Day weekend. This Holiday marks the starting line for summer vacations and is followed by a sprint of fun and sun to Labor Day.

This year on May 30, the day is likely to include family picnics, fireworks, ballgames, and the opening of community pools. Even the Indianapolis 500 has been held on Memorial Day since 1911. And then there are the sales. While looking at one reference to Memorial Day, the first notation was a 10 percent discount.

Formerly known as Decoration Day, our nation set aside time to commemorate the lives of Union and Confederate soldiers who have died in the Civil War.

After World War I, the memorial was expanded to include all who had given their lives in service to our Country.

This is perhaps a time, as well, for a lesson. Memorial Day is an opportunity to help young people to understand that freedom is not completely free.

With high school graduations over the next couple of weeks, there is a misconception that with a diploma comes "emancipation" -- freedom.

Ironically, you are not emancipated until you can prove that you are taking care of yourself. Earning some money, paying some bills, accepting some responsibility.

Certainly this is a time of celebration and recognition for a journey completed, but it is, perhaps not by coincidence, in juxtaposition with a time of remembrance.

William Harrison, a former President who grew up in Charles City County just east of Richmond, shared, " I have never been able to think of the day as one of mourning; I have never quite been able to feel that half-masted flags were appropriate on Decoration day. I have rather felt that the flag should be at the peak, because those dying we commemorate rejoiced in seeing it where valor placed it. We honor them in a joyous, thankful, triumphant commemoration of what they did."

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