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Real Patriotism – Then And Now – Part III – Memorial Day

2012 May 26

By Cindi Silva,Worldwidehippies - I was going to write this week about the decade 1980-1989 but I decided it was more important to acknowledge our first summer three day weekend the Memorial Day holiday.  I’ll cover 1980-1989 next week.

Woot! Woot! Memorial Day weekend has finally arrived!  In the US it’s typically celebrated with barbecues with friends and family, often parades, kicking off summer and remembering soldiers.  Let’s take a closer look at why we celebrate Memorial Day and who we have to thank for this extra day off work  . . .
Memorial Day originally started as Decoration Day – I think I might like that name better.  Over two dozen cities and towns across the Nation claim to be the originators of this legal holiday.  Women’s groups in the South were decorating graves before the end of the Civil War.  “Kneel Where Our Loves are Sleeping” by Neila L. Sweet dedicated this hymn published in 1867 “To The Ladies of the South who are Decorating the Graves of the Confederate Dead.”  In May 1966 President Lyndon Johnson officially declared Waterloo, New York the birthplace of Memorial Day.  It seems to have many separate beginnings.  The real patriots of each town and city that ever planned events to honor the war dead in the 1860′s seem to have contributed to the growing movement that culminated in General Logan giving his official proclamation in 1868 to bring us together to celebrate the lives lost in the name of freedom and was first observed on May 30, 1868, by gathering to place flowers on the graves of Union and Confederate soldiers at the Arlington National Cemetery.  In 1873 New York was the first state to officially recognize the holiday.   By 1890 Memorial Day was recognized by all of the northern states.  The South honored their lost soldiers on separate days until after World War 1 when the holiday changed from honoring just those who died fighting in the Civil War to honoring Americans who died in any war.  Congress passed the National Holiday Act of 1971 to ensure a three day weekend for Federal Holidays.
In 1915, inspired by the poem, “In Flanders Fields,” Moina Michael replied with her poem:
We cherish too, the Poppy red
That grows on fields where valor led,
It seems to signal to the skies
That blood of heroes never dies.
General John A. Logan
Library of Congress, Prints & Photographs Division, [LC-B8172- 6403 DLC (b&w film neg.)]
I’ve written a couple of my own poems for Memorial Day.  The first one is a haiku I wrote on October 30, 2011 and posted on my blog:
“. . . for a veteran I saw  riding down the street in his hover chair.  He had the look of enjoyment, freedom and at the same time sadness.  Knowing it may be the last time he would be cruising the familiar ride. I know I did.  I was thinking he sacrificed a lot for his country, can’t we help him now.   He must have been remembering a lot of things as he took that ride . . .  he must have been wondering how he was going to get around after his chair was sold . . . how the $600 was really going to help him . . . one day at a time.
A sign pinned to his chest
$600 For Sale
The price for Freedom”
I leave you with I poem I wrote earlier this week honoring army Staff Sargeant Thomas Fogarty  killed in Afghanistan, my cousin Richard and all the men and women who have lost their lives in war.  I’ll be back next week until then you know what to do — go out there, create joy and spread it around!  Peace.
Goodbye To A War Hero – In Modern Times
(May 21, 2012)
Above my building
I heard a helicopter circling
It sounded like a warning
So loud
So close
As if the window was open
I would be able to reach out
and touch it
then it was gone
It came back again
this time I drew open
the blinds
and looked out to see
where it was going
it circled my building and
I watched it fly away
a few moments later
I heard it’s persistent cry
Getting
Louder
Stronger
Summonsing me outside
Was I under it’s spell
outside the door
I kept my eyes fixed on the helicopter
hovering
in front of my office
as if it was waiting there for me
I watched it for several seconds
army green
the color of camouflage
army fatigues
It was so unsettling
I felt a wave of uneasiness
wash over me
a beacon of impending danger
filling the sky
a reminder of doom
could it be a modern day
Paul Revere
I posted on facebook
as it was happening
did anyone know
what was going on
in the Alameda sky
one friend thought there may be
an Oakland Occupy Protest going on
other friends made jokes
one friend made untoward comments
harassed and otherwise bullied
a friend of mine
causing me to block him
in the evening I
glanced at my wall
Mike McMahon
a trustee of the
Alameda Unified School District
and facebook friend of mine
had answered my call
it was a hero’s farewell
a soldier from Alameda
had been killed in Afghanistan
the helicopter was part
of a ceremony held in his honor
at the Kofman Auditorium that day
I wanted to hear more
which led me to a google search
there were newspaper article blurbs
honoring
30-year-old Thomas Fogarty
an army staff sargeant
killed in Afghanistan
in a bomb blast while commanding a vehicle
a ceremony was held today
by his family and friends
honoring him at the Kofman Auditorium in Alameda
It took me back to my cousin Richard
killed in a landmine accident
during the Vietnam War
about two weeks before he was to be discharged
At his funeral there was a 21 gun salute
to honor his act of heroism
which led to the loss of his life
I wish when Richard came home again
we would have been able to hear him laughing
and hear his stories
I’m sure that must be how
Thomas Fogarty’s
parents, family and friends feel now
To Staff Sargeant’s Thomas Forgarty’s
parents, friends and family
I’m so sorry for your loss
To us he was a local war hero
to you he was so much more

Cindi Silva’s poetry and prose is published worldwide. She is a writer, artist and mindfulness teacher. “We are all scientists experimenting in the adventure of a lifetime. There are no fails just experiments that lead to new discoveries. All we have are moments to live. If you miss one that’s okay another one is already here.” Cindi Silva lives in San Francisco with her family..

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