As we approach Memorial Day, I am compelled to reflect on an event in my life that gave the holiday new meaning for me.
Two years ago my younger son was deployed overseas, serving with the US Navy. Fortunately he was not on the battlefield. As a parent, I was grateful that his location was not worse but mindful of the sacrifice he made by accepting the responsibility of defending our nation.
Before he returned home, I planted over 300 flower bulbs in my yard. My goal was to plant one bulb for every day he spent on foreign soil. Planting them gave me a sense of hope. Looking forward to his return, hoping he was safe and hoping the flowers would bloom in the spring. Last fall I added to the collection and in April, the sunshine yellow of daffodils and various shades of blue from crocus and grape hyacinth emerged. It was like they were fulfilling a promise. Better weather, better days and many reasons to be grateful.
Do you know how Memorial Day started? Three years after the Civil War ended, on May 5, 1868, the head of an organization of Union veterans — the Grand Army of the Republic (GAR) — established Decoration Day as a time for the nation to decorate the graves of the war dead with flowers. Maj. Gen. John A. Logan declared that Decoration Day should be observed on May 30. It is believed that date was chosen because flowers would be in bloom all over the country. The first large observance was held that year at Arlington National Cemetery, across the Potomac River from Washington, D.C.
Today Memorial Day is a time to remember our loved ones that passed. Many celebrate the start of the cookout and summer season. As you gather with family and friends, take a moment to remember the service men and women, past and present, that work to preserve our way of life. My son returned safely and his life picked up right where he left off. As I reflect on Memorial Day, I am grateful for that and pray that parents with sons and daughters serving our country are as fortunate.