Monday is Memorial Day, and there are parades scheduled in Fair Haven and in Rumson. When I was growing up, my parents still called it “Decoration Day”, the old name for Memorial Day. Before we changed our holidays to be 3-day weekends it was always celebrated on May 30th, and I’ve read that the date was picked because by then flowers would be in bloom all across America. Flowers were used to “decorate” the graves of the soldiers, sailors and marines who had died in the service of their country. The first Decoration Day happened 150 years ago in 1864 at the graves of soldiers who had been killed during the Civil War at the Battle of Gettysburg.
The meaning of Memorial Day has changed over the years. Some people use it as a day to plant flowers at the graves of all of their loved ones, whether they served in the military or not. Most people just see it as the unofficial start of summer, or a day to have a barbecue or a picnic. While there’s nothing wrong with celebrating this weekend any way you’d like, there’s still something to be said for remembering the original reason for Decoration Day.
So this Monday, think about a family member or a friend who served (or is still serving) in the military. I’ll be thinking of my dad, Staff Sergeant Leonard K. Dunikoski, Sr., who spent several years serving in World War II before coming home and marrying my mom.
Please be sure to fly the flag not just on Monday, but this entire weekend.