Defenders of the Faith,
As many of you know. I have been a hospice volunteer for 28 years. I have sat at the bedside of 348 people as they took their last breath. On this Memorial Day, my brother, sister and I are taking turns sitting at the bedside of our father who is struggling to remain alive this day. My Dad is a 84 year-old WWII veteran, and the finest man I have ever known. To my father and all American veterans, I send my love and sincere appreciation for all they have done to keep this country free. I would like to extend my appreciation to another group of American heroes who have displayed the same kind of unwavering courage and compassion. These valiant patriots are known as care-givers. Each day they give of their lives to protect and help others as they search for peace and meaning in the final days of life. Without the tireless efforts of these volunteers, many of our veterans would be left alone as they face their last days. Believe me when I say, volunteerism is the ultimate spiritual activism I urge everyone reading this to find a cause that speaks to your heart, and devote at least four hours a week volunteering your time to it. Of course, my heart is in end-of-life care, and the personal rewards that I have received from giving of myself in this way are priceless. On this Memorial Day, I pray that you find your calling in volunteer work, for this is your way to make a real difference in the world!
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Memorial Day weekend is not just a holiday weekend, but a celebration of those who gave their lives to keep us free. Go to your local VA and visit a Vet Memorial Day weekend!
Memorial Day was originally known as Decoration Day because it was a time
set aside to honor the nation's Civil War dead by decorating their graves.
It was first widely observed on May 30,1868, to commemorate the sacrifices
of Civil War soldiers, by proclamation of General John A. Logan of the
Grand Army of the Republic, an organization of former sailors and
soldiers. On May 5, 1868, Logan declared in General Order No. 11 that:
During the first celebration of Decoration Day, General James Garfield made a speech at Arlington National Cemetery, after which 5,000 participants helped to decorate the graves of the more than 20,000 Union and Confederate soldiers buried in the cemetery.
This 1868 celebration was inspired by local observances of the day in several towns throughout America that had taken place in the three years since the Civil War. In fact, several Northern and Southern cities claim to be the birthplace of Memorial Day, including Columbus, Mississippi; Macon, Georgia; Richmond, Virginia; Boalsburg, Pennsylvania; and Carbondale, Illinois.
In 1966, the federal government, under the direction of President Lyndon Johnson, declared Waterloo, New York, the official birthplace of Memorial Day. They chose Waterloo—which had first celebrated the day on May 5, 1866—because the town had made Memorial Day an annual, community-wide event during which businesses closed and residents decorated the graves of soldiers with flowers and flags.
By the late 1800s, many communities across the country had begun to celebrate Memorial Day and, after World War I, observances also began to honor those who had died in all of America's wars. In 1971, Congress declared Memorial Day a national holiday to be celebrated the last Monday in May. (Veterans Day, a day set aside to honor all veterans, living and dead, is celebrated each year on November 11.)
Today, Memorial Day is celebrated at Arlington National Cemetery with a ceremony in which a small American flag is placed on each grave.
Click on the below links to see how American's are celebrating Memorial Day.
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