I was reading about Memorial Day on the History Channel’s website:

Something really stood out to me in that article, I guess because growing up in the 60’s I remember vividly the Vietnam War and the controversy surrounding it. The war was unwinnable because of the DMZ, that line that could not be crossed, and the American public was sick of the war and the loss of life. And while many were petitioning government to end the war, many more were disrespectful of soldiers returning home. They were called names, spat upon, and received no honor from what should have been a grateful nation. They were defending the cause of freedom and serving bravely and boldly in our military.

There were riots in the USA during those times. The most memorable was the Kent State riot during which the National Guard opened fire upon unarmed rioting students in order to quell the mass protest. This led to a student strike by 4 million students at universities, colleges, and high schools across the country.

Memorial Day was originally called Decoration Day. The Civil War ended in the spring of 1865 and had claimed more lives than any other conflict in our history. One of the ways to remember those who had died in the conflict was to decorate their gravesites with flowers. So in the spring of 1868, the first Decoration Day was held on May 30th and 5,000 participants decorated the graves of 20,000 Union and Confederate soldiers that were buried there.

Only 3 years later, the American people were able to stand side by side and honor those soldiers who fought, they fought for what they believed was a just cause, on both sides. And for many years Decoration Day – eventually called Memorial Day – was celebrated on May 30th all over the country.

It wasn’t until 1971 that it became a federal holiday and effective at that time was the Uniform Holiday Act which caused the remembrance to be celebrated on the last day of the month.

So today Memorial Day is celebrated in remembrance of those who lost their lives while serving in our military in all conflicts. And it took at least a decade for Americans to realize the misplaced anger against our Vietnam Vets and start thanking them for their service to our country. Given today’s political climate, I am not sure we learned our lesson.

So this Memorial Day, honor those fallen heroes, those men and women who died defending the cause of freedom, because freedom always comes at a price.