Friday, May 22, 2009

Decoration Day

Memorial Day week-end is usually filled with barbecues and outdoor sports. This year the festivities may be a bit muted compared to years past, what with the newly found frugality of the U.S. consumer. Nonetheless, the original intention of the holiday is still lost to many.

The date was first set aside as a holiday in 1868 to honor soldiers who had fallen in the Civil War. It was called Decoration Day as celebrants placed flowers and flags on the graves of soldiers as gestures of gratitude for their service in the name of freedom. So many soldiers have fallen since that first day in the cemetery in Waterloo, New York.

If there is no soldier in your family or distance separates you from their resting place, visit, a foundation started by Bob Woodruff to support Iraq war veterans. Woodruff was wounded by a roadside bomb in Iraq as he was reporting for ABC News. You can also “tweet” your support using the Twitter platform.

This year in particular the weekend seems to be a good time to pause for reflection on war as a means to solve political and security issues. The economic downturn has sharpened political debate in the U.S. It is worthwhile to differentiate between the harmful rhetoric of rabid nationalism and the words and deeds of genuine patriotism.

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