Memorial Day Message from Eric Clinton – Commander American Legion Post 85

Memorial Day Speech by Post 85 CommanderToday is viewed by many people as the beginning of summer, pools open schools let out, HS and colleges have their graduations and their back yard bbqs etc. Galore.

I also see people get confused over the meaning of memorial day vs veteran’s day. Just today I received several texts or messages from friends thanking me for my service... while some people jump to make on the spot corrections as were used to call them in the military, I simply say thank you even though they are missing the boat this extra patriotism and something positive regarding our country that has nothing to do with the left or right should be treated as a good thing as too often we see the opposite.

Growing up in a small town in the mid-west I never gave it much thought either. Memorial day weekend was usually filled with baseball or softball tournaments, flags did seem to spring up on most of the houses, people were handing out these small red flowers and we always had a parade that went thru town and would end at the main cemetery in town where there would be some patriotic music by the local high school band, a short speech by the mayor and then by someone from the local American legion. Then it was off to a bbq or the pool opening....

However, today is about much more than a bbq or party. It's to honor the countless soldiers, sailors, airmen, marines and coast guardsmen who have given their lives in defense of our country in uniform at home and abroad.

On May 5, 1868, General John A. Logan, leader of an organization for Northern Civil War veterans, called for a nationwide day of remembrance later that month. “The 30th of May, 1868, is designated for the purpose of strewing with flowers, or otherwise decorating the graves of comrades who died in defense of their country during the late rebellion, and whose bodies now lie in almost every city, village and hamlet churchyard in the land,” he proclaimed.

The date of Decoration Day, as he called it, was chosen because it wasn’t the anniversary of any particular battle. On the first Decoration Day, General James Garfield made a speech at Arlington National Cemetery, and 5,000 participants decorated the graves of the 20,000 Union and Confederate soldiers buried there.

Memorial Day, as Decoration Day gradually came to be known, originally honored only those lost while fighting in the Civil War. But during World War I the United States found itself embroiled in another major conflict, and the holiday evolved to commemorate American military personnel who died in all wars.

For decades, Memorial Day continued to be observed on May 30, the date Logan had selected for the first Decoration Day. But in 1968 Congress passed the Uniform Monday Holiday Act, which established Memorial Day as the last Monday in May in order to create a three-day weekend for federal employees; the change went into effect in 1971. The same law also declared Memorial Day a federal holiday.

Please if I could have everyone raise their glasses in honor of the fallen... to the fallen.

Thank you,

Eric Clinton – Commander
American Legion Post 85