While Kamala Harris enjoyed her “long weekend” we’re hoping many of our readers took the time to reflect on one of the important components of our just–completed Memorial Day.
Memorial Day is another one of our traditions that date back to the Civil War, which we would have assumed would give the holiday a special significance for a Black vice president, but evidently it didn’t.
The original name was Decoration Day because that is when the families of dead Union soldiers would visit their graves and tidy the area after winter concluded to prepare the cemeteries for summer.
The first recorded instance of Decoration Day was in Waterloo, NY on May 5, 1866. It was an event that involved the entire town. Businesses closed and residents cleaned the graves and then decorated each one with flags and flowers.
Two years later, Gen. John A. Logan — a ‘political’ Civil War general who turned out to be an excellent combat general — called for a national day of remembrance. He chose the end of May because no significant Civil War battle had occurred on that date.
Later the holiday expanded and evolved to include all our soldiers who had given their lives in service to our country. There is one cemetery where a special honor is given to those dead who don’t have family to tend their graves or, in many instances, even a headstone to mark their final resting place. These are the unknown soldiers and in Arlington National Cemetery there is a tomb for our unknowns from every war.
We Are The Mighty has a nice summary online that explains why the troops guarding the Tomb of the Unknowns are so special. First, they have been on duty continuously, 24–hours–per–day, since 1937.
They perform their solemn duty in uniforms that display no insignia of rank. That’s because since the identity of the unknowns buried there is a complete mystery, the Dept. of Defense does not know what rank the soldiers held when they died. To avoid the possibility of the guards out–ranking the dead they honor, no insignia are worn.
The guards that make up the watchers for the Tomb of the Unknowns are an elite ceremonial force. This isn’t an assignment that rotates through the ranks like KP duty. The site explains, “This is not just a lifestyle in the way that the Army life is a different way of life. When serving as a Tomb Guard, the job becomes [their] life for 18 months. The average sentinel takes 8 hours to prepare everything required to go on duty for his next and that shift is a 24–hour shift.”
The guards patrol on a rotating basis for two hours at a time during their day–long shift.
The guards are silent, respectful and they perform their solemn task with dedication, precision and exactitude.
This is what Memorial Day really means. Today, we can have the ‘Memorial Day Sales’ and the long weekend because others who came before us were willing to make the ultimate sacrifice for their country.
Michael Reagan, the eldest son of President Reagan, is a Newsmax TV analyst. A syndicated columnist and author, he chairs The Reagan Legacy Foundation. Michael is an in-demand speaker with Premiere speaker's bureau. Read Michael Reagan's Reports — More Here.
Michael R. Shannon is a commentator, researcher for the League of American Voters, and an award-winning political and advertising consultant with nationwide and international experience. He is author of "Conservative Christian's Guidebook for Living in Secular Times (Now with added humor!)" Read Michael Shannon's Reports — More Here.