Memorial Day Weekend

American_FlagToday, I spent time at Antietam National Battlefield in Sharpsburg, Maryland. Sadly, it is known for being the bloodiest one day battle in the Civil War – September 17, 1862, saw 23,000 soldiers killed, wounded, or missing. Stats courtesy of the National Park Service.

It was a gorgeous day here, temperatures were in the mid 70s and a light breeze kept the sun from being too hot. As I walked around the park and pondered the battle tactics, I got to wondering where Memorial Day came from. What’s the history behind the holiday?

In high school, I was a member of the band (you’re not surprised, are you?), and I remember going to services at the local cemetery and then marching in a parade, but other than dreading wearing the heavy, sweat-inducing uniform in the heat – why we were there? (Wow! What a long sentence!!)

I checked out the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs website for the official scoop. Some of the first observances occurred at the end of the Civil War (1866) where flowers were laid on the graves of fallen soldiers. Check out the full explanation here. Continue reading “Memorial Day Weekend”