May 26, 2013

The real reasons for Memorial Day

It’s Memorial Day weekend and a special community celebration is planned for Monday in downtown Dalton to commemorate the holiday.

This special date in late May signifies many things — the end of a school year, the beginning of the summer season — but the real reason is to take time to remember those who served and died in our nation’s service.

There are many stories as to its actual beginnings, with more than two dozen cities and towns laying claim to being the birthplace of Memorial Day. There is also evidence that organized women’s groups in the South were decorating graves before the end of the Civil War; hence it was known as Decoration Day for decades.

According to sources, Waterloo, N.Y., was officially declared the birthplace of Memorial Day by President Lyndon Johnson in May 1966. It’s difficult to prove conclusively the origins of the day, but it is known that Memorial Day was first proclaimed in May 1868, by Gen. John Logan, national commander of the Grand Army of the Republic. The idea soon spread throughout the North, as Southern states preferred to honor their dead on separate days until after World War I when the holiday changed from honoring just those who died fighting in the Civil War to honoring Americans who died fighting in any war.

Now all states observe the date on the last Monday in May.

And Dalton plans to be in on that observance.

Thanks to Dalton’s American Legion Post 112, a Memorial Day Ceremony is set for 10 to 11 a.m. on the Crawford Street side of the Whitfield County Courthouse.

This is followed by free lunches and booths at Dalton Green, facing Pentz Street, from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Many local organizations are participating, with activities as varied as pet adoptions to inflatables to a blood drive. And a common patriotic theme will tie them all together.

We encourage the community to take advantage of this holiday offering, but whether you choose to attend this or another outing or just stay at home and have family and friends over for a cookout, remember the reason for this particular holiday.

Let us each pause, perhaps more than once during this long weekend, to honor with appreciation and gratefulness the spirit and sacrifice of the fallen.

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