Traditionally, this Memorial Day holiday is the start of the summer season with community celebrations, parades and cookouts. And, at long last, a time when folks could start to gather after long year abstinence of missed social get togethers.
Unfortunately, this holiday was when Mother Nature intervened not in a good way as the weekend weather here in Nashua, NH, and surrounding areas has been windy, rainy, chilly, and very unwelcoming for any outdoor plans, Friday to Monday.
We had no special holiday plans, other than gathering with neighbors riverside to watch a lighted boat parade on the Nashua River and watching fireworks from our apt windows.
Fireworks were a no-go and the boat event has been postponed until this coming weekend. We'll miss it as we're (finally) returning to our native NJ for a first-time visit since December 2019. It's a way long overdue visit.
|Rain, rain go away
This day was originally known as Decoration Day, started in the years after the Civil War to honor only those lost fighting in that war. Back in May 1868, Gen. John Logan, leader of an organization for Northern Civil War veterans, officially proclaimed it as such in General Order No. 11 calling for a nationwide day of remembrance and proclaiming The 30th of May 1868, is designated for the purpose of strewing with flowers, or otherwise decorating the graves of comrades who died in defense of their country during the late rebellion, and whose bodies now lie in almost every city, village and hamlet church yard in the land.
The date was chosen as it wasn’t the anniversary of any particular battle. It became Memorial Day by federal law in the 1880’s and became a U.S. federal holiday in 1971.
On the first Decoration Day, General James Garfield made a speech at Arlington National Cemetery, where 5,000 participants decorated the graves of 20,000 Civil War soldiers. New York was the first state to officially recognize the holiday in 1873. Many northern states held similar commemorations and by 1890 many had made Decoration Day an official state holiday. Most Southern states didn't acknowledge the holiday and instead honored their military dead on separate days. That tradition ended after WW as the holiday evolved to commemorate American military from all states who died in all wars.
Today, it’s observed by most every state. Several southern states including Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Mississippi, South Carolina and Texas have an added separate day specifically for honoring Confederate war dead.
For decades, Memorial Day was observed on May 30. In 1968 Congress passed the Uniform Monday Holiday Act establishing it as the last Monday in May. The change, effective in 1971, declared it a federal holiday making it a three-day holiday weekend for many.
|Moina Belle Michael
After WW I, Michael was teaching a class of disabled servicemen, and saw a need to provide them with support. This lead to the her idea of selling silk poppies to raise funds. In 1921, this effort led to the poppy being adopted as a symbol of remembrance for war veterans by the American Legion Auxiliary, and later by Earl Haig's British Legion Appeal Fund (later The Royal British Legion).
|VA garden poppy
Shortly before Memorial Day 1922, the Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW) became the first organization to nationally sell poppies. Two years later the Buddy®️Poppy program was selling artificial poppies made by disabled veterans. In 1948, the US Post Office honored Ms Michael for her role in founding the National Poppy movement by issuing a red postage stamp with her likeness.
Currently, the Memorial Day tradition has expanded to include the annual “National Moment of Remembrance” which asks Americans to pause for a minute at 3 p.m. (when most are enjoying time off) to remember those who died in military service. The Moment was enacted into law by Congress in December 2000.
This year, Memorial Day observances in many NH towns have been scaled back or cancelled. Here in Nashua, the annual parade was called off for the second consecutive year as officials cited the difficulty in trying to keep participants and spectators safe. We attended the last Memorial Day Parade in 2018. Events such as wreath-laying services were scheduled, but the foul weather most likely will deter attendees.
Nashua honors military veteran or active duty service members through a Military Banner Tribute Program run by the Nashua Division of Public Works that launched last summer. It features the name, photo and military history of 38 active duty members/veterans on banners hung along the 1.8 mile newly renamed Veterans Memorial Parkway. Banners purchased by family members or sponsors will be up from Memorial Day through Veterans Day and given to participants as a keepsake afterwards. (Foul weather prohibited a photo excursion.)
There’s a another memorial display in Hudson, NH, a town about 2 miles from Nashua. Started in 2019, the Field of Honor® is a fundraiser for the local American Legion Post. Each flag honors current active duty members, veterans, or first responders within a 50-mile radius of the town. The flags stand in solemn formation in Library Park 2 weeks before Memorial Day until flag day in mid-June. They are lit at night and will be taken down and stored after the display period.
Rain has continued on and off today. This Sunday scene from our LR window gives some idea of the less than ideal holiday forecast. It's as miserable outside as it looks from indoors.
Not to be deterred from enjoying a weekend holiday (or any time) favorite food of hot dogs, Grenville prepared them wrapped in crescent rolls not hot dog buns. My contribution was roasted veggies and roasted cauliflower with barbecue sauce. (We had healthy sides.)
How was your weekend (holiday or not)? We hope, you had better (much) weather than here.