This is the holiday of flowers: flowers that were called to be strewn upon the ground in honor of the dead from both sides who gave their lives to defend their country during the Civil War...
After the bloodiest and most divisive war in American history, Commander in Chief John A. Logan of the Grand Army of the Republic instituted the holiday at Arlington Cemetery in 1868 "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 churchyard in the land."
Though many states in the south refused to observe Memorial Day fully and continued to honor their Confederate dead on a separate day, the entire country adopted the day after World War I as a day to honor soldiers fallen in any war. Since a Congressional act in 1971 the last Monday in May has been observed as a national holiday in nearly every state, ensuring a three day weekend.
For us now it a much appreciated holiday after a long spring of busy weeks and preparations for the summer ahead. It affords us a little extra time and the opportunity to reflect on what has been gained and lost in war, as well as to smell the flowers which have come back to visit us after a long winter.
Memorial Day is, at its root, a beautiful holiday that takes us past politics and history to a more universal place.
It is about reconciliation.
It is about overcoming division, honoring those that gave their all, and renewing our own commitment to the "great work" of living right here, right now on the earth in community.
Have a great Memorial Day.
(picture: US Army Corps of Engineers)