From the Master of Kadosh (May, 2013)

posted May 26, 2015, 8:43 PM by San Jose Scottish Rite   [ updated May 26, 2015, 8:44 PM ]
Memorial Day is currently observed on the last Monday of May. 
Formally known as Decoration Day, it commemorates all men and women, who have died in military service for the United States. Traditionally, people visit cemeteries and memorials on Memorial Day, particularly to honor those who have died in military service. Many volunteers place an American flag on each grave in national cemeteries. It is traditional to fly the flag of the United States at half mast from Dawn until Noon. 
Unfortunately, Memorial Day has slowly become less of an occasion of remembrance, possibly because it is a federal holiday and it's observance date has been moved to create a 3 day weekend. Now many people see Memorial Day weekend as the start of the summer season, an opportunity to go on a short vacation or visit family or friends, with less thought given to the original intent of the day. 
Memorial Day started as an event to honor Union soldiers, who had died during the American Civil War.  It was inspired by the way people in the Southern states honored their dead after the American Civil War. After World War I, it was extended to include all men and women, who died in any war or military action. 
There are many stories as to its actual beginnings, with over two dozen cities and towns laying claim to being the birthplace of Memorial Day. Waterloo N.Y. was officially declared the birthplace of Memorial Day by President Lyndon John­son in May 1966. 
It is not important who was the very first, what is important is that Memorial Day was established. It is not about division, it is about reconciliation; it is about com­ing together to honor those who gave their all. Memorial Day was originally known as Decoration Day. The current name for this day did not come into use until after World War II.  Decoration Day and then Memorial Day, used to be held on May 30, regardless of the day of the week on which it fell. In 1968, the Uniform Holidays Bill was passed as part of a move to use federal holidays to create three-day weekends and since 1971, Memorial D-ay holiday has been officially observed on the last Monday in May. Many believe that partly as a result of this change of observation date, the traditional meaning and relevance of Memorial Day has . Many Americans nowadays have forgotten both the meaning and traditions of Memorial Day. Most people no longer remember the proper flag etiquette for the day. Unfortunately, at many cemeteries, the graves of the fallen soldiers are increasingly ignored and too often neglected. While there are towns and cities that still hold Memorial Day parades, many have not held a parade in decades. Some people think the day is for honoring any and all dead, and not just those fallen in service to our country. 
To help reacquaint and remind Americans of the true meaning of Memorial Day, the "National Moment of Remembrance" resolution was passed in Dec 2000.  It asks/suggests that at 3 p.m. local time, all Americans "Voluntarily and informally observe in their own way, a Moment of Remembrance and Respect, pausing from whatever they are doing for a moment of silence and/or listening to 'Taps." 
The Moment of Remembrance is a step in the right direction to returning the meaning back to the day. What may also be needed to return the solemn, and even sacred, spirit back to Memorial Day is for a return to its traditional date of observance. Let’s set aside one specific date out of the year for the nation to get together to remember, reflect and honor those who have given their all in service to their country.
Many feel that when Congress made the day into a three-day weekend in with the National Holiday Act of 1971, it made it all the easier for people to be distracted from the spirit and meaning of the day. As the VFW stated in its 2002 Memorial Day address; "Changing the date merely to create three-day weekends" has undermined the very meaning of the day. No doubt, this has contributed greatly to the general public's nonchalant observance of Memorial Day."
For all of the readers of this Rite-Word article, let’s do our part to help instill the true meaning of the day, regardless of the date of observance.
Please this year, as you remember our Fallen Soldiers, take a moment to reflect on the reason for the establishment of such a remembrance. It is just as relevant today as it was in any and all of the eras of the past. 
From Bivouac Of The Dead, by Theodore O'Hara
"The Muffled drum's sad roll has beat the soldier's last tattoo;  No more on Life's parade shall meet those brave and fallen few.  On Fame's eternal camping-ground, their silent tents are spread,  And Glory guards, with solemn round, the bivouac of the dead." 

Jerry Best 
Master of Kadosh