My family takes the holiday a step farther and honors the dead of our entire family, military or not (and most are not).I grew up in Michigan but my family is from a small town in Indiana. When I was a kid we always visited my Grandmother and Aunt in Indiana for Memorial Day so my father could go to cemetery that day.
I edited the article, Memorial Day History, down to bullet points. If you would like to read the full article which is quite interesting if you are a history buff you can find it here: http://www.usmemorialday.org/backgrnd.html
- Memorial Day, was originally called Decoration Day and was first observed on 30 May 1868, when flowers were placed on the graves of Union and Confederate soldiers at Arlington National Cemetery.
- After World War I the holiday changed from honoring just those who died fighting in the Civil War to honoring Americans who died fighting in any war.
- Memorial Day is now celebrated in almost every State on the last Monday in May (passed by Congress with the National Holiday Act of 1971 (P.L. 90-363) to ensure a three day weekend for Federal holidays.
Dad would go to the store to get a bouquet of fake flowers (they were plastic in those days) because they lasted longer, then gather up a pair of garden shears, a whisk broom and a bag to clean up the clippings. He and my aunt would go to the cemetery and clip the long grass around the headstones of their father and grandparents, stick the flowers into the ground and say prayers.
Eternal rest grant unto them, O Lord,They would work their way around the small Catholic cemetery where our ancestors were buried clipping and cleaning and praying for each person that we were related to.
and let perpetual light shine upon them.
May they rest in peace.
I remember the year I first got to go with them. It was really kind of boring and really kind of cool at the same time. I'm sure that those visits helped increase my interest in history because I could relate it to real people. After the visit to the cemetery there would generally be a cookout at my grandmothers' house.
Last July my Aunt died so this year is the first time she gets the Memorial Day treatment. I didn't go with my Dad this year. But I was able to help in decorating the graves. I was asked to go get some flowers and make a bouquet for my Aunt and a larger arrangement for the entire family, "something long and low to put in front of the main stone", which is the grave of my great grandmother and great grandfather.
My son Evan graduated from Kindergarten on Friday (the post on that will be coming soon). Dad was here for the festivities. Which meant he was also available to watch Evan on Saturday. I was on a mission to find the right flowers and containers to hold them. I called home periodically but I got to shop at Hobby Lobby, Michael's, JoAnn Fabrics and Craft Fancy unaccompanied by a whining 6 year old. I was able to look at both floral stuff and paper crafty stuff. Bliss!
Sunday morning I put the arrangements together before Mass and after the service Dad left for Indiana. I just got the photos in my email of the bouquets in their final resting place. We pray the grounds keepers don't toss them too quickly. The long one will be hard to "toss" as it contains 4 very large stones from my garden as weighs. Here it is: