Happy Memorial Day.

by Daniel Russ on May 27, 2013



Memorial Day was first established after the American Civil War. Before there were forensic ways of counting mortality and before reliable methods existed for counting population, it was thought that there were about a half million Americans dead during the civil war. Later estimates were increased to 623,000. Most recently I have seen 750,000 dead is a prudent guess. The bloodshed was so great that the holiday was invented to mark it, and honor the dead of both sides.


Since then the holiday has been expanded to include all American war dead.


In the mid 19th century it became a practice to lay flowers of wreaths on the graves of the dead. This tradition was grounded in early memorial celebrations around the world. In the South gravesites were festooned with flowers. In the North, bands played war songs. By the Second World War, Memorial day has become a day to see family, or cook out, or just do nothing but be grateful for whatever blessing you have. And what would Memorial Day without old veterans marching, or riding in parades? Or panegyrizing politicians?


It is a day to thank those that sacrificed for us, and to wonder why keep doing this.





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