Do we need some memorial for Memorial Day?
The meaning of the holiday may be getting lost in the rush of barbecue, boating and general kicking back on what’s become an extended weekend that now seems more oriented toward welcoming summer than honoring those who have given their lives in the nation’s wars.
In Lawrence, this means the swimming pool opened. Large crowds are expected at area reservoirs for camping, cooking, boating and fishing. There’s already been a rodeo and demolition derby in Tonganoxie. A band concert in is scheduled in Lawrence’s South Park today. There’s a 5K run, too, Monday morning, to benefit Family Promise and the Lawrence Community Shelter’s family program.
There are sure to be family reunions and picnics and many opportunities for fun. Across the country there will be sports activities, including auto races and other major events.
But the observances particularly focused on the essence of the holiday are not to be overlooked. Here are some in our area:
• American Legion Dorsey-Liberty Post 14 Memorial Day ceremony at 10 a.m. Monday at Oak Hill Cemetery, at 1605 Oak Hill Ave., with a flag-retirement ceremony to follow at 10:30 a.m.
• American Legion Lloyd Beaton Post 228 Memorial Day observance at 10 a.m. Monday at Oakwood Cemetery in Baldwin City.
• Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 852 Memorial Day ceremony at 11 a.m. Monday at Memorial Park Cemetery, at 1517 E. 15th St.
• Memorial Day ceremony at 11:30 a.m. Monday at Clinton Cemetery, at 724 N. 950 Road.
It may be worth a reminder that Memorial Day began as “Decoration Day,” a time set aside to put flowers on the graves of soldiers who had died for their country. Its origins are subject to various claims, but generally it’s related to decorating the graves of Union soldiers killed in the U.S. Civil War. The traditional observance was on May 30, regardless of the day of the week. After World War I, it included all of our military and all of our wars. After World War II the holiday name changed to what we know it as today, and since 1971, it has been observed as a federal holiday on the last Monday in May, providing a three-day weekend.
Enjoy the weekend. But remember what it’s all about. Pause and think, and thank, those who cannot enjoy it with us.