Memorial Day

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Here in the US, it’s Memorial Day. We honor those who died in war with parades and cookouts, baseball games, and going to the beach. Veterans Day, in November, commemorates every service member, living or dead; it’s the day we thank our veterans for their service to this nation. Someone was putting up a fuss about this on Facebook (where else?), saying it was inappropriate to thank veterans for their service on Memorial Day. I don’t think it’s ever the wrong day to thank a veteran, regardless of the “official” meaning of the day. So, veterans, thank you for your service.

When I was younger, Memorial Day was May 30th, regardless of where it fell. If it was a Wednesday, you’d work or go to school on Monday and Tuesday, take Wednesday off, then go back to work or school Thursday and Friday. When the Uniform Monday Holiday Act went into effect in June 1968, it, along with Washington’s Birthday (renamed Presidents Day), Columbus Day, and Veterans Day were moved to Mondays. I remember either the American Legion or Veterans of Foreign Wars (or maybe both) wasn’t happy and demanded that Memorial and Veterans Days be returned to their traditional days. Eventually, they got Veterans Day returned to November 11 (in 1978), and they decided that was a good compromise.

Memorial Day weekend has become the unofficial start of summer, even though it’s about a month before astronomical summer begins, just as Labor Day has become the unofficial end of the season. Another holiday, Independence Day (July 4) serves as the midpoint. Back in the day, we didn’t get out of school until the first week of June (Mom, who taught in the Chicago Public Schools, didn’t get out until the actual start of summer, circa June 20, later when there was a teachers’ strike in the middle of the year) and went back the Wednesday after Labor Day. The kids here in Georgia (and in much of the rest of the country) got out last Friday, and go back the second week of August. They just can’t win: true, the schools are air conditioned, but it’s still the dog days of summer. Guess they need the extra time to get ready for their standardized tests…

I think Canada celebrates Memorial Day today as well. Well, whether you have the day off or not, have a good Memorial Day.

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Author: John Holton

I'm a writer and blogger who writes and blogs about things that interest me.

5 thoughts on “Memorial Day”

  1. I didn’t know that about the Uniform Monday Holiday Act. That’s interesting. I only remember when Washington’s birthday and Lincoln’s birthday were consolidated into one day, Presidents Day. I wasn’t happy about that back then…it meant one less day off!
    Why on earth would someone make a fuss about thanking veterans?! Good grief, somebody always has to bitch about something!
    I now live in Texas where the schools start back up in August. That always baffles me because where I’m from (New York), school didn’t start until after Labor Day, usually the Wednesday after. And school was out as of Memorial Day. Here now kids are off today but have to go back to finish the week out. Crazy.
    Have a good Memorial Day John, whatever you’re doing…even if it’s nothing, like me! 🙂
    Michele at Angels Bark

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    1. We did nothing in honor of the holiday. Since I’m disabled and essentially retired, holidays are no big deal.

      Not every state celebrated Lincoln’s birthday, especially in the South. I grew up in Chicago, so we had the day off, Illinois being the Land of Lincoln and all that.

      Starting in mid-August seems to be a Southern thing, which makes no sense, because it’s usually hotter than blue blazes until October. Eventually I think they’ll go to school year-round, with weeks off interspersed throughout the year.

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  2. I remember having the day off for both Lincoln’s and Washington’s birthdays. Our schools won’t get out until the first or second week of June and then they go back the week before Labor day.
    I’m glad they have Veteran’s Day on the correct date.

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    1. With Veterans Day, “the eleventh hour and eleventh minute of the eleventh day of the eleventh month” was the way it was remembered. I think Wilson said that. I was at Marshall Field’s one Veterans Day when I was a kid; they rang a bell at 11:11, and everyone stood up for a minute of silence. That’s one of those customs I wish they’d follow again. National holidays have just become an excuse for white sales.

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