Memorial Day is fast approaching and with it the unofficial start of the summer season.
As a result, many people load up their cars, trucks, campers, and other vehicles to hit the road and visit friends, family, or to get a way for a few days.
But amid all the BBQ’s, cool beverages, and sumptuous desserts, let’s take a moment to reflect on the history and reason for the holiday.
The Holiday Formerly Known As Decoration Day.
The U.S. American Civil War claimed the lives of more than 600,000 by it’s end in the spring of 1865.
This was, and by some accounts still is, the single most deadliest war in the U.S. American history.
By the end of the 1860’s various towns and cities had a springtime tribute to those fallen warriors.
Though where the idea started is not clear, in 1966 the U.S. government declared Waterloo, NY as the official birthplace of memorial day.
Waterloo because it first celebrated decoration day on May 5, 1866. It held a community-wide event to decorate the graves of soldiers with flowers and flags.
General John A. Logan called for a nationwide day of remembrance and proposed the official date of Decoration Day to be May 30th.
People accepted the change and idea of Decoration Day spread like wildfire, and by 1890 each state had made it a state holiday.
Memorial Day Grows
Overtime the phrase “Decoration Day” became “Memorial Day.”
Originally it was meant to serve as a memorial to the Civil War soldiers.
But as the U.S. became embroiled in World War I and then World War II. Followed shortly by the Koren War, the Vietnam War, and the many wars in the Middle East.
Memorial Day became a way to honor fallen soldiers regardless of the conflict.
Then in 1968 Congress passed the Uniform Monday Holiday Act. Which declared Memorial Day a Federal Holiday and moved it to the last Monday in May. This gave federal employees a three-day weekend.
On Memorial Day all national flags are flown at half mast.
Did You Know? At 3:00pm local time a national moment of remembrance occurs across the U.S.
Memorial Day Today
While the spirit of the holiday is to recognize our fallen soldiers by decorating their graves or monuments with flowers and flags. Or even by wearing poppies, as was adopted after WWI.
Many people have adopted this day as a way to remember any loved one who has passed away.
This is evident by the countless graves decorated with flowers, ribbons, stuffed animals, crochet items and so much more.
It is clear by the amount of decorations that Memorial Day is indeed a solemn day of remembrance.
A time to ask what might have been if their loved one had lived. Or to celebrate the life lived and give thanks for having been a part of that life, whether it was long or short lived.
Another tradition for some is to visit Memorial Gardens.
A memorial garden is a place of purpose. It celebrates the life of one, or several individuals.
The design of a memorial garden is focused on giving the visitor a sense of safety, peace, and tranquility.
Like botanical gardens, a memorial garden may have a variety of flora. It may even include animal life such as coy ponds, birds, and insects such as butterflies and honey bees.
Unfortunately, not all cities have memorial gardens. Though many cemeteries, particularly older ones, have mature trees and garden-like areas.
These areas are popular resting spots for those who need a moment of peace and serenity.
While these public gardens are amazing and beautiful they don’t always afford one the privacy they may be yearning for.
A solution to this is to create your own Memorial Garden.
Why Make A Memorial Garden?
For those who find themselves in the ocean of grief, a memorial garden is an island of tranquility.
It’s a space where we get a chance to remember our loved one while connecting with nature. There’s something peaceful about being surrounded by plants and animals that are full of life.
Nature has a way of soothing the soul.
A memorial garden is a truly personal experience. It has aspects of the personality of the one creating the garden but also the personality of the one we are remembering.
This is done by the variety of trees, bushes and flowers we choose. By the color of stones that mark the path or border. Even the furniture used speaks of the personalities involved.
The best part about making your own is it can be as big or small as you want, or as you are able.
You can select a corner of your small apartment or porch, or landscape a quarter acre lot. The size or shape of your memorial garden is irrelevant. Do what makes you happy and what helps you to heal in your moment of grief.
To Be Continued…
There is so much information about memorial gardens, and my mind is a flutter with ideas.
I couldn’t possibly fit it all in one post.
Join me next week as I give you ideas of which plants or gemstones may help to augment your memorial garden.
But I’ll give you a hint.
“There’s rosemary, that’s for remembrance; pray, love, remember; and there is pansies, that’s for thoughts…
There’s fennel for you, and columbines; there’s rue for you, and here’s some for me; we may call it herb of grace o’ Sundays. O, you must wear your rue with a difference.”
–William Shakespeare, Hamlet