First Place Youth Essay Winner
1st PLACE | 2nd PLACE | 3rd PLACE | Honorable Mention
Written By: Nicole Manis
Ah, Memorial Day. Too many family members crowded around giving wet cheek kisses, cousins causing mischief when parents aren't looking, and hamburgers topped with cheese and pickles only. There is always watermelon. Always. At least, this is my version of Memorial Day. We break out the flag-patterned plates, the flag-patterned cups, and the flag-patterned underwear each year to celebrate Memorial Day. And yet, amidst all the chaos and American flags, there always comes a time where everyone is hushed and the real part of Memorial Day is celebrated. Although it is fun to be with family and have a party at the beginning of summer, honoring our friends and family who have passed is the true meaning of Memorial Day.
According to the government Memorial Day website, Decoration Day, as it was first named, was created after the Civil War to honor fallen soldiers. General John Logan ordered that May 30 was to be a day of remembrance because no major battles had their anniversary on that date. He declared, "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 churchyard in the land" (History). Currently it is celebrated on the last Monday in May so that workers can enjoy a three-day weekend. The National Moment of Remembrance was passed in 2000, which asks Americans to stop what they are doing at 3 P.M. on Memorial Day and take a moment to remember and respect the dead (Claybourne).
There are several traditions that are still observed during Memorial Day. American flags are lowered to half-staff until noon when they are raised once more, symbolizing the fallen and those who are still alive to remember them. Many people visit the graves of their family members and place flowers or miniature flags beside them. Some towns have Memorial Day parades. Flags are placed at each grave in Arlington National Cemetery and soldiers guard them over Memorial Day weekend so that they stay raised (Claybourne).
It is a fact that the United States has been involved in many conflicts. Sadly, this means that people had to sacrifice their lives and their futures to keep the rest of the country safe. These people are true heroes. They saw the need for action, and they rose to the challenge for the good of their country. This is why they deserve to have a day of recognition and respect. Memorial Day is how the rest of us can show our appreciation for the men and women who made America the powerful and free nation that it is.
America, the land of the free and the home of the brave. When I laugh along with my cousins and eat my dad's famous hamburgers, I remember that the true meaning of Memorial Day is just resting under the surface. This is the true meaning of Memorial Day, to honor our fallen by celebrating their sacrifice and remembering them for as long as we live.