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May 24, 2011 > Memorial Day - more than barbeques and beer

Memorial Day - more than barbeques and beer

The first unofficial observance of Memorial Day can be traced to November 19, 1863, the day of President Abraham Lincoln's Gettysburg Address. A portion of the battlefield was dedicated to thousands of soldiers who fought at that site. Officially, Memorial Day was originally established as "Decoration Day" by General John A. Logan, first commander of the Grand Army of the Republic May 5, 1868. The designation has changed to "Memorial Day" but it remains a time to remember those who died serving our country. We honor them with parades, speeches and the bittersweet strains of "Taps."

Originating in memory of soldiers who died during the American Civil War, ceremonies expanded after World War I to honor all who have lost their lives in any military action. Flag displays are encouraged; until noon, flags should fly at half-staff after first being raised to the peak. After noon, they should be raised to the peak for the remainder of the day. A National Moment of Remembrance - one minute - is observed at 3 p.m. local time on Memorial Day; all citizens are asked to pause for a moment of silence. The time was chosen because it is when many Americans are enjoying their freedoms on this national holiday.

Many local cemeteries and memorials hold services and remembrances to give thanks to those who given their lives to sustain the American dream of freedom and liberty. Along with solemn ceremonies, for many the long weekend signals an unofficial beginning of summer. Barbeques and outdoor activities dominate as families gather to enjoy a (hopefully) warm and pleasant weekend. For ideas about family Memorial Day activities, look through the TCV "It's A Date" calendar in this issue. As a quick tip, Ardenwood Historic Regional Park in Fremont is honoring families (and their pocketbooks) with free admission on Monday, May 30.

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