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Patriotic Article
Country and Flag
By Steven Coffman

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The Patriotic Origins of Memorial Day in the U.S.
(July 6, 2006)

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In 1866 the United States was recovering from a long and bloody Civil War. Surviving soldiers came home, and all with stories to tell of what they seen, heard, and experienced first hand themselves.

A drugstore owner named Henry Welles in Waterloo, New York heard some of these stories. He in turn, went to the other shop owners in town and convinced them that they should close for one day in May to honor the soldiers who were killed in the Civil War and to honor those patriots of the Civil War who were buried in Waterloo cemetery.

On May 5th, 1866 the shop owners did not open their stores, and the townspeople gathered and placed flowers, wreaths and crosses on the graves of the Northern soldiers in their cemetery. At the same time, Major General Jonathan A. Logan (retired) planned to have a ceremony for the soldiers that survived the Civil War. He led the veterans through the town to the cemetery to decorate their comrades' graves with flags.

Every May 30th thereafter the townspeople would walk to the cemeteries and hold memorial services. They would decorate the graves with flags and flowers. Then they would walk back to the park in the middle of town and gather in the middle of the park near a monument dedicated to soldiers, sailors and marines. The Gettysburg address was read, followed by Retired Major General Logan's (Order #11) designating Decoration Day. Then the village choirs would sing patriotic songs. Then, in the evening the school children would take part in a parade to honor these patriots.

100 years later in 1966 President Lyndon B. Johnson proclaimed Waterloo the birthplace of Memorial Day, and in 1971 President Richard M. Nixon declared Memorial Day a federal holiday to be observed on the last Monday of May.

Memorial Day is not limited to honor on those American patriots who served or gave their life in a time of war in our armed forces. It is also a day for personal remembrance of our family and friends that we personally know who have served or died in the name of our freedom, even if it is just done with a silent reflection of tribute from us. Some of us visit the cemeteries and say a prayer, add flags or flowers on the graves.

Many public events are held every year to honor our patriots through parades, celebrations, church services, television movies, and news commentaries to reflect and honor these hero's. We must never forget the very high price that was paid by these veterans of service for each of our freedoms that we enjoy on a daily basis. And Memorial Day is a fitting way to honor them and should not be just another three day weekend before the beginning of summer.

Our Father in heaven please Bless our patriots that have been in harm's way and have died for suffered in the name of freedom for our great country the United States of America. May you also continue to Bless our country, the United States of America.

Steven Coffman
Copyright 2006

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