May 30th, 1868 was the first official celebration of Memorial Day with flowers placed on the graves in Arlington National Cemetery. More than two dozen cities take credit for starting this precious holiday yet President Lyndon Johnson declared Waterloo, New York the birthplace of Memorial Day in 1966. The National Holiday Act of 1971 declared Memorial Day would be celebrated on last Monday in May. Memorial Day is a time for Americans to remember the men and women who have given their lives while serving our beloved United States of America. While many remember all our men, women, boys and girls currently serving in the Armed Forces, knowing the sacrifice they make each day so we can enjoy our luxuries and freedoms within the states ~ the true reason for everything closing down and family gatherings is to REMEMBER…remember our fallen soldiers.
Moina Michael is the author of “In Flander’s Field”, written in 1915. The first stanza of this beautiful poem triggered the tradition of wearing a red poppy to remember our fallen soldiers, our heroes. Thank you Moina Michael for using your gift of writing to ignite a time honored visual remembrance. One tradition not lost. It opens with:
“We cherish too, the Poppy red
That grows on fields where valor led,
It seems to signal to the skies
That blood of heroes never dies.”
Each year we start our day at the Riverside Cemetery in Oswego, New York. At 9:00 a.m. the Veteran’s arrive with wreaths, flowers, a trumpet and prayers to honor the fallen through a short yet powerful service. After the flag is raised everyone is invited inside the Page Memorial Chapel for a beautiful and emotional reminder of God’s love for us and those called to serve focusing on the lives lost in the line of duty. By 9:30 a.m. the chapel is full of music, poetry and the message of remembrance and hope. The music permeates your being, with goose bumps and tears everyone is reminded of the importance and true meaning of this beloved holiday…Memorial Day. This is open to the public and a most precious and powerful way to start your day.
In December of 2000 the “National Moment of Remembrance” resolution passed. This resolution ask ALL Americans to set dedicate a few minutes at 3:00 p.m. on Memorial Day "To voluntarily and informally observe in their own way a Moment of remembrance and respect, pausing from whatever they are doing for a moment of silence or listening to 'Taps." The Moment of Remembrance is a step in the right direction to returning the meaning back to the day. What is needed is a full return to the original day of observance. Set aside one day out of the year for the nation to get together to remember, reflect and honor those who have given their all in service to their country.” http://www.usmemorialday.org/backgrnd.html#1
At 3 p.m. today will you observe a moment of silence, sing a patriotic hymn of praise or play Taps to remember our fallen soldiers? We are the UNITED States of America…let us unite in prayer, silence and remembrance at 3 p.m. today.
A photo tribute in honor and remembrance of our fallen soldiers…keep their families in your prayers throughout the year, but especially today.
At the conclusion of the Riverside Cemetery's Memorial Day services there are light refreshments and fellowship. With a mid-morning snack quenching our thirst and hunger we transition to West First Street for another Memorial Day tribute. This one usually includes a fly by during the service...amazing. Another tradition is the New Haven Memorial Day parade ~ starting at the New Haven Elementary school and concluding at the New Haven cemetery. Each year the teachers walk with the students in the parade, this will be my first year not walking with my school family. In order to join the parade I have to miss the family picnic, or arrive very late. This year I've decided to slow down and enjoy the day differently, instead of racing between locations I will spend 8:30 a.m. through Noon remembering the soldiers that gave their all for our country and then relax with my family for a picnic and fellowship.
Following the parade as some head home or to their family picnics I usually enjoy a walk through the cemetery. It is a quiet time of prayer and remembrance. I'm always humbled by the amount of American flags flying in our small cemetery. We may be a small town yet we've had so many that dedicated their lives to defending our country. The headstone to the left is for Mossman Leishman ~ not only is he a veteran, he was an amazing man, gardner and neighbor. He lived next door to my parent's house and always welcomed me over. His mail and paper boxes were in my parent's yard instead of his because he like the Oswego mail system better than Mexico, so he moved his mailbox. Too cute. As he progressed in age I would race out the door when I saw him coming to bring him his mail or paper to save him the trip. I enjoyed helping him yet it was the goodies he pulled from behind his back or from within his deep pant pocket that ellated me. Sometimes it was a quarter, sometimes freshly picked strawberries or a fresh vegetable. The hugs and smile were always a bonus too...a dearly missed man.
My buddy Yvonne and I would ram around Mr. Leishman's yard, gardens and barns. He was her grandpa so I got to spend oodles of time with him and Mrs. Leishman. As we helped in the garden or watched him work in the barn he would tell us stories of the places he went and the people he met while serving for our country. He expressed how important it was to honor and respect ourselves and our country. "Marry a service man!" (I did too...I think he was hinting to marry his grandson but that didn't happen. An ongoing joke and memory we talk about to this day) I hope all our youth take time to listen to our soldiers and cherish their memories...some day, this is all we have left.
Lisa M Buske
P.O. Box 323