Memorial Day Weekend was once just Memorial Day (a single day) and before then, Decoration Day. The occasion to recognize all men and women who had given their lives serving our country actually began after the Civil War to only honor Union soldiers. Over the years, this day has taken on a definition far removed from its original solemn one. Many consider Memorial Day to be the unofficial “first day of summer.” Thus, the only tears shed on this day may be over a camp’s FULL sign or the weather not cooperating with beach or picnic plans.
So far, the upcoming weekend weather may surprise you. My optimism for perfect eclipse viewing conditions, on Sunday, more than paid off. Not only were the skies clear, but the thermometer reached 100 degrees! During the eclipse, the atmosphere took on an eerie hue – a muted and deep-blue …awesome!
Last weekend we looked to the skies and this weekend to those who have fought and died for our freedom.
Decoration Day was instituted in 1868 by Civil War veteran U.S. General John A. Logan, “…for the purpose of strewing flowers or decorating the graves of comrades whose bodies now lie in almost every city, village, and hamlet churchyard across the land.”
By the early 20th Century, Memorial Day became an occasion to remember all deceased relatives, not only those in the military. My grandmother shared recollections of her family on their Kansas farm. A family cemetery was on this acreage. On Decoration Day, they gathered there to picnic, cut the grass around the head stones and plant flowers. She recalled it as a day of reflection and not one of sadness.
Over the years, the day has evolved. By 1971, the Uniform Bills Act changed it from May 30 to the last Monday in May, now creating a three-day weekend. Some say this has undermined its original meaning.
To rekindle the spirit, put out your flag and attend one of many Memorial Services around town.
Very cool days are in the forecast, with a drop of 20 degrees accompanied by fog and maybe drizzle. Warming returns to start the week.
With gratitude and appreciation of our freedoms, enjoy your Memorial Day weekend.
Sue Kilpatrick is a
Crescenta Valley resident and
Official Skywarn Spotter for the
National Weather Service. Reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org.