Honoring all veterans for a meaningful Memorial Day

Posted by Linda Rockwell, We Honor Veterans Program Coordinator

Honoring all veterans for a meaningful Memorial Day
Linda with our amazing JourneyCare veteran volunteers.

Most of us will enjoy Memorial Day weekend as the kickoff to summer. But the reason the holiday began has a sobering history, which JourneyCare’s We Honor Veterans program will help area senior living communities to remember this year.

Memorial Day  pays tribute to the more than 1 million Americans who left home to fight for our country but did not return: to remember those who made the ultimate sacrifice for us, and to pay them homage. There are currently more than 21 million military veterans living in our country - but this is not their day.

Formerly known as Decoration Day, it was first observed on May 30, 1868, after being proclaimed by General John Logan, national commander of the Grand Army of the Republic. Logan’s stated purpose for observing the holiday was to, “gather around the sacred remains” of our “comrades who died in defense of our country,” “garland the passionless mounds above them with the choicest flowers of spring time, and raise above them the dear old flag they saved from dishonor.”

For decades, Memorial Day continued to be observed on May 30, the date Logan had selected for the first Decoration Day. But in 1968 Congress passed the Uniform Monday Holiday Act, which established Memorial Day as the last Monday in May to create a three-day weekend for federal employees; the change went into effect in 1971. That same law also declared Memorial Day a federal holiday.

JourneyCare’s veteran volunteers have been asked to lead Memorial Day ceremonies at Winchester House in Libertyville, Fox Point Manor in McHenry, The Fountains of Crystal Lake and Presbyterian Homes in Evanston. They and our We Honor Veterans program will also recognize the veteran residents at these facilities with a certificate of honor and special pin.

But in what ways can we best thank ALL these warriors, regardless of the reason for their service – whether they were drafted or volunteered? Making this country something worth dying for is the ultimate service we can do for them. We each can do this in our own unique way, according to our abilities. And when we do, it honors the sacrifices they made on our behalf. Thank you to our lost troops and, please, enjoy a meaningful Memorial Day.

To learn more about JourneyCare’s We Honor Veterans and all the special ways this program helps veteran patients and their families throughout the year, visit journeycare.org/we-honor-veterans.

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