Evan Smith: Let’s get back to a true Memorial Day

Monday, May 31, 2010

COMMENTARY/ EVAN SMITH

Memorial Day has become a time for the first fling of summer.

It should be what our grandparents called “Decoration Day,” a day set aside to decorate the graves of our ancestors.

It was conceived as a day to honor those who died in war, but many families, like mine, who don’t have veterans to honor, visited the graves of departed relatives.

Much of that changed in the 1970s, when Congress moved Memorial Day from its traditional May 30 date to the last Monday in May.

People who take advantage of the three-day holiday miss the festive nature of a cemetery on Memorial Day with the fresh flowers and the flags put up by veterans ‘ groups.

I usually can’t make it to the family plot, but I’m lucky to have a cousin who goes every year. He reports on decorating the family graves and even the one nearby grave of a man that no one seems to know.

Photo: Decorated grave of William J. "Jim" Harris, Civil War veteran


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