Thoughts On Memorial Day 2012 - Guest Contributor Rep. Jeff Miller of Florida
Decoration Day, as Memorial Day was originally known, was conceived in May 1868 and was first observed at Arlington National Cemetery to bring together the families of the fallen to help heal the wounds of a war that had threatened to tear our young nation apart.
In its early years, the public would “decorate” the graves of veterans with flags, wreaths, and flowers, a tradition that endures nearly 150 years later at national cemeteries across the country—simple, heartfelt gestures that render honors on our veterans to remind us of their service and sacrifice.
Now thanks to Wreaths Across America, Americans have the opportunity to pay their respects to our military dead twice a year by the placing of wreaths at veterans’ cemeteries across the nation during the holiday season. Just as in the early days of Memorial Day in May when people chose flowers to pay their respects as so many were in bloom, so too do we use a symbol of winter, a pine wreath and bow, to remember and honor in December.
This Monday, as a nation, we will observe Memorial Day. Memorial Day is not just for barbeques, shopping, or having the day off from work. It is the day of the year all Americans should remember and reflect upon those who have fought for our country and who now lay in peace.
So this Memorial Day, let us pay our respects to all those who have worn our nation’s uniform to defend our freedom, while remembering also our soldiers, Marines, sailors, airmen, and Coastguardsmen still in harm’s way, and their families.
This is a guest contribution to our blog from Rep. Jeff Miller (FL-01), Chairman of the House Committee on Veterans’ Affairs. You can follow Congressman Miller on Twitter at @CongJeffMiller