By Sue KILPATRICK
Washington D.C., May 5, 1868
General Orders No. 11
Headquarters Grand Army of The Republic
“The 30th day of May is designated for the purpose of strewing with flowers, or other decorating, the graves of comrades who died in defense of their country during the late rebellion [The Civil War] … and to arrange services and testimonials of respect…”
- As proclaimed by Army General John Logan
As the weather grows warm and the expectations of summer are upon us, Memorial Day has become just one more three-day holiday weekend. Over the decades the recognition of this day, for most of us, has changed. Once a solemn day set aside to honor the soldiers who have given their lives, it is now the unofficial first day of summer – a time for backyard barbecues, a day at the beach or an out-of-town get away. During this time, take a moment to reflect on the brave U.S. men and women who have lost their lives serving our country. Have fun and enjoy the weekend, but remember – without their sacrifices we may not have these freedoms.
Often, with eager prompting from me, Grandma would tell “What was it like when you were growing up?” stories. They often began, “Now Susie, back when I was your age you have to remember things were a lot different.” My grandma grew up on a farm in Kansas homesteaded by her father in the 1870s. At this time of year the weather was mild. With crops well established and new calves thriving, she and her family would hitch up a wagon and take a picnic dinner out to the family cemetery and “decorate the graves” of those “who had gone before.”
Fresh flowers were planted, the picket fence surrounding the area got a fresh coat of whitewash, children played and a good chicken meal was enjoyed by all. This was Memorial Day, also known as Decoration Day almost 150 years ago on our family’s farm in Kansas. So, yes, “things were a lot different” – but were they really? Good weather and good food as family came together to reflect on and enjoy life.
One word comes to mind to describe the weather – pleasant. The rhythm of partly cloudy mornings and breezy, clear afternoons is expected to carry through the Memorial Day weekend. Friday will be the warmest day reaching 80. Things cool down a bit on Sunday with highs around 70. Monday will warm up as a weak high pressure moves in. Conditions should persist through next week. No rain in the forecast. Perfect conditions for displaying our flag! The best weather in Southern California will be here in the Foothills.
Wishing you a safe and enjoyable weekend.
To those serving in the U.S. military and their families
… thank you.