As I See It

Hatred Was Buried In First Memorial Day

I trust that each of you had a good and safe Memorial Day weekend. I also trust that all of us remembered to pay tribute to those who have given their life for this Great Nation, Home of the Free.

Have you ever wondered about the beginning of Memorial Day? A story that came from the editorial page of the New York Daily News, dated May 30, 1988, has been interesting to me and I hope will be to each of you.

“It was a spring morning in 1866, just after the Civil War had devastated the South. A group of Southerners did something quite extraordinary. They marched down the streets of what was left of their town to a cemetery. There they decorated the graves of the soldiers. ALL the soldiers,  Union as well as Confederate. The mothers and daughters and widows had buried their dead. Now they buried their hatred. The time for healing had come. It was the first Memorial Day.”

Have you ever wondered why Memorial Day is held in May? The date does not mark a battle, or the beginning of a war, or the signing of a peace treaty. Why then is Memorial Day in May? There is a practical reason. May is the month of flowers. Those flowers were used to decorate the graves of those who died for this Country. There may be some who remember when Memorial Day was called Decoration Day. Cemeteries were filled with people planting or placing flowers on the graves of their loved ones.

There are places where this is still true but I am afraid that in our day people just cannot be bothered. We live a much too busy life and Memorial Day has become a day to cook on the grill, go to the lake or spend time in the ball park. We find it difficult to find time to place flowers on the graves or a flag on the grave of those who gave the ultimate sacrifice.

From the New York Daily News, dated May 18, 1989, the following article appeared: “At the National Cemetery on Long Island, one of the nation’s largest, it has become necessary to advertise for volunteers to place flags on the graves of veterans as the number of veteran volunteers has decreased. However, many of those who volunteer have no idea why they are there. One young man, a 13-year-old Scout, was asked if he understood why the members of his Boy Scout Troop were there placing flags on the graves. He quickly replied, “To get service hours.”

We owe a great debt of gratitude to the men and women who have given and are giving their service to our Country. Freedom is not free. It has been purchased for a great price. When you see one of our Veterans please take time to say “thank you.”

I do appreciate your prayers. I have been diagnosed with “Pernicious Anemia,” and am being treated with B12 injections and a very high powered iron supplement. I was told by my hematologist that in a few months I should be up to speed again. I am not sure exactly what that means for a 67 year old. I am already feeling better but will have to limit physical activity for awhile. Again, I do appreciate your prayers.

Billy McCord is a retired school administrator and an Elder in the United Methodist Church. He is Pastor of the Pittsboro and Shady Grove UM Churches in Calhoun County. He is a member of the Calhoun County School Board. Contact him: billymc@tycom.net)

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