According to the U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs website, Memorial Day was first established as “Decoration Day,” three years after the end of the Civil War. An organization consisting of the heads of the Union Army declared May 30 a date dedicated to decorating the graves of the war dead. There’s speculation that it was chosen because there would be plenty of flowers available at that time of year.
After World War I, the holiday was expanded to include those who have died in all American wars, not just the Civil War.
Like the rest of the country, New Mexico honors it’s fallen heroes in hundreds of ways. In my hometown of Logan, New Mexico, there is a ceremony going on right now at the cemetery to honor our war heroes. Those living veterans present will stand and come forward to the gracious applause of the rest of the crowd. Awards will be presented to the oldest living soldier. We still have one survivor from the Bataan Death March living at Autumn Blessings, an assisted living facility in Logan. I’m sure he will attend, pushed there in his wheelchair by my cousin Tommy, who is his son-in-law.
Here in Santa Fe, there will ceremonies. And then there will be walks through the National Cemetery to visit graves and view the hundreds of small flags put out by the Boy Scouts on Saturday.
It’s a breathtaking sight, especially set against the greener than green grass which is the result of recent generous rains in the state.
Today is a good day to stop what you’re doing and pay attention to those men and women in your midst who gave of their time and effort to further the cause of freedom.
It’s a good day to celebrate their sacrifices.
And it’s a really good day to walk quietly through their midst.
That’s what I did yesterday at the National Cemetery. It made me very proud to be a New Mexican.