Memorial Day

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Memorial Day

Post by spot »

I thought I'd look up what Americans memorialize tomorrow.

Memorial Day "commemorates the men and women who died while in the military service", according to the US Department of Veterans Affairs Office of Public Affairs whatever that may be.

Assuming the commemoration is of men and women who died while in the military service of the US - though I note the US Government website wording quoted above doesn't make that claim - that's an average of 16 deaths a day of whom half were killed by other armed citizens of the US.

The ambiguous wording does lead me to a question: Do Americans in general memorialize the war dead of those they fought as well as of their own, on Memorial Day?

I can't imagine why they wouldn't since the vast number of those who fought on either side will have been conscripts with no choice but to fight, or fighting in support of conscripts who had no choice but to fight, but I suspect not.
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Post by LarsMac »

No sir. We simply honors those who served the US and gave their lives in that service. It is up to the other nations, ally or foe, to honor their own dead in whatever fashion they see fit.

And we had our share of conscripts though we generally referred to them as "Draftees".

The origin of Memorial day was to honor those who served on either side, during the War between the States.
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Memorial Day

Post by spot »

LarsMac;1496361 wrote: The origin of Memorial day was to honor those who served on either side, during the War between the States.



That's very helpful. You might like to read the Introduction by E F M Feahtz, the Assistant Quartermaster General at Washington in 1870, from https://books.google.com/books?id=hMSiIxJdazYC&printsec=frontcover&dq=memorial+day&hl=en&sa=X&ved=0ahUKEwjjs5Czxf_MAhXFOBQKHaDvDdcQ6AEIJjAA#v=onepage&q=memorial%20day&f=false

The whole book is over a thousand pages, into which I've dipped. State by State, cemetery by cemetery, the events of the previous year's Memorial Day are recorded. It's a Memorial in its own right.
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Memorial Day

Post by LarsMac »

Thank you. I had seen that book once, years ago, while at a library in DC.

Here is another interesting read on the subject. » The First Decoration Day Zinn Education Project
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Memorial Day

Post by Mark Aspam »

When I was a kid, we called it Decoration Day and we put flowers on the graves of deceased relatives, without regard to whether or not they served in the military.

It was mainly an opportunity to share some time with living relatives whom we saw only occasionally due to geographical separation. A very nice holiday for everyone.

Can't imagine why "furners" would try to present it in a negative light!
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Post by spot »

Mark Aspam;1496365 wrote: Can't imagine why "furners" would try to present it in as negative light!



Moi??

I don't believe I did, I thought I'd been entirely respectful while hoping to improve my understanding. And I thought the site would benefit from a Memorial Day thread this year.
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Memorial Day

Post by Mark Aspam »

I don't believe so either and please forgive me for any misunderstanding.

Do Brits have anything similar?
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Post by ZAP »

Mark Aspam;1496365 wrote: When I was a kid, we called it Decoration Day and we put flowers on the graves of deceased relatives, without regard to whether or not they served in the military.

It was mainly an opportunity to share some time with living relatives whom we saw only occasionally due to geographical separation. A very nice holiday for everyone.

Can't imagine why "furners" would try to present it in a negative light!



In Kansas we decorated the graves of all the relatives and my 3 cousins still do. (Among many others.) I mention these 3 because they'll be visiting around 20 cemeteries this weekend, decorating the graves of grandparents, mothers and fathers, brothers & sisters, cousins, etc. Then when I go to Kansas next week, I'll go with them to take the flowers down.
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Post by spot »

Lars' extract on the Zinn history website is taken from a chapter at page 94 of https://books.google.com/books?id=V-YxaltOdSEC&printsec=frontcover&dq=%22The+Memory+of+the+Civil+War+in+American+Culture%22&hl=en&sa=X&ved=0ahUKEwjPpez74P_MAhUMsBQKHVl_AQQQ6AEIIjAB#v=onepage&q=%22The%20Memory%20of%20the%20Civil%20War%20in%20American%20Culture%22&f=false and the chapter is worth bookmarking too. I'm pleased Professor Blight's essay was brought into the thread, it's impressive background.
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Memorial Day

Post by FourPart »

In the U.K. we also have Memorial Day, but although it is primarily those that have fallen whilst serving in the Military, it also honours those who have fallen in the line of duty in other ways for their country & fellow man - such as the Fire Service, Police, Ambulance, Lifeboatmen, etc.

As far as the phrase "Those who have given their lives" as far as the Military is concerned - particularly during WW2 & later, when conscription was in force, I would question the validity of the phrase, as very few would have 'Given' their lives, rather than had their lives 'Taken' from them, knowing that if they advanced as ordered they MIGHT get shot by the enemy, and if they didn't then they WOULD get shot by their own side. Of course, there were the few who willingly volunteered & even went into situations, knowing that there was little if any likelihood of their returning alive. These are the ones that should truly be revered. This frequently includes the other Civilian forces, as previously mentioned.

Another Memorial, which is rarely given anywhere near the same amount of publicity is the Memorial Stone to the Conscientious Objectors. These are the ones who stood by their principles, whilst being rebuked by their own people, under the derisive term, "Conchies". Of course there were those who used the ploy to get out of Active Service, but what was less known is that so many of these "Conchies" were simply refusing to take up arms. They did, however, frequently volunteer to go into the front lines as Medics & Ambulance Drivers, in far more hazardous conditions than the majority of the rest of the front line troops. Personally, I find it insulting that this historic stone is rarely recognised in the Memorial Day ceremonies.

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Post by flopstock »

I covered a service earlier today and the speaker actually mentioned those who volunteered and those that hadn't but still gave their lives.

Veterans appear to attend to show respect for those that had gone before and civilians pretty much walked around thanking those that are still alive for their service
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Memorial Day

Post by LarsMac »

Yesterday, I had three people wish me a happy Veterans' Day.

In Boulder, last night, they held what amounted to a Pep Rally for Veterans, which ended with fireworks.

We stayed home.

I believe that certain holidays should remain close to their original intent. Memorial Day should be about those who gave their lives in military service. To simply honor that specific sacrifice.

Yes, there are other people who gave their lives as firefighters, police, Road Construction workers, etc., etc. But this was meant for those who willfully walked into harm's way to defend their nation and their family. I think that every nation owes a debt to their citizens who made that sacrifice, and they deserve that distinctive respect.

We can have other days to remember those other people.
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. . . a future in which Hiroshima and Nagasaki are known not as the dawn of atomic warfare but as the start of our own moral awakening.



Text of President Obama’s Speech in Hiroshima, Japan

No doubt he is really proud of that little bit of pseudo-wisdom.
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LarsMac;1496419 wrote: Yesterday, I had three people wish me a happy Veterans' Day.

In Boulder, last night, they held what amounted to a Pep Rally for Veterans, which ended with fireworks.

We stayed home.

I believe that certain holidays should remain close to their original intent. Memorial Day should be about those who gave their lives in military service. To simply honor that specific sacrifice.

Yes, there are other people who gave their lives as firefighters, police, Road Construction workers, etc., etc. But this was meant for those who willfully walked into harm's way to defend their nation and their family. I think that every nation owes a debt to their citizens who made that sacrifice, and they deserve that distinctive respect.

We can have other days to remember those other people.



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Memorial Day

Post by gmc »

We don't have a memorial day in the UK - at least not one I have ever heard of. We do have remembrence day on the 11th of november or remembrance sunday on the sunday closest to it. Most nations on the planet have a similar remembrance day on or about that time of year especially those that were involved in ww1.

It started post ww1 not as a glorification of war but to remember those who had fallen and the sheer utter futility and folly of war early attempts to make it a jingoistic event fizzled away in the face of public hostility to that although recently those on the right have tried to make it a patriotic occasion with poppy fascists making their presence known but it's not how most people see it in my experience.

The US civilian population was a bit more detached than in europe, asia and the middle east from the two world wars. Millions of civilians were killed so it's not just simply remembrance of the soldiers who were killed in far away battlefields especially in europe you have a slightly different perspective when your home was blown to bits and foreign troops occupied your village - many french villages have memorials to those in the maquis killed by the nazis. In france and germany, italy austria most places have a cenotaph just change the language and it could be anywhere in the UK in some places it's clear most of the young male poulation didn't come back from war.

The whole point was to remember not to glorify war or turn it in to a glorification of patriotism or the military.
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Post by spot »

One aspect of the UK's version of Memorial Day (which we still call Armistice Day and hold, as gmc says, on November 11th) is that we restrict who may pay their respects at the national shrine. We have never, to the best of my knowledge, allowed any representative of the German or Japanese governments to participate.

A German did once unilaterally lay a wreath at the Cenotaph. Here's a news report of how it was treated:The incident occurred after Dr. Rosenberg placed a wreath on Wednesday at the base of the Cenotaph.

Early yesterday morning an unknown person cut away from it the silk swastika decoration, and a little later the wreath was taken away in a car, and, it is understood, thrown into the Thames.

As a sequel an ex-officer, Captain Sears, who removed the wreath, was fined £2 for wilful damage to the wreath. The defendant said that his action was a "deliberate national protest," since Herr Hitler's Government was fostering a feeling "which many of our fellows lost their lives in fighting." The Magistrate said he was not concerned with defendant's private opinions and his action was ill-mannered and improper.

13 May 1933 - THE CENOTAPH EPISODE - Trove



We don't make magistrates like that these days, more's the pity, but we definitely hanged Dr Rosenberg at the first available opportunity thirteen years later. No official from the German consulate has since tried to repeat the gesture.
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spot;1496423 wrote: One aspect of the UK's version of Memorial Day (which we still call Armistice Day and hold, as gmc says, on November 11th)



Actually, we observe Veterans Day

Veterans Day is not to be confused with Memorial Day; Veterans Day celebrates the service of all U.S. military veterans, while Memorial Day honors those who died while in military service.[1].

Congress amended the bill on June 1, 1954, replacing "Armistice" with "Veterans," and it has been known as Veterans Day since.[5][6][/url]

As a kid growing up I knew people referred to Arminianist day.
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Post by spot »

Thank you tude. It's a British English thing. Armistice is a word referencing November 11th to you and to me. To the US it morphed into Veterans Day relating to all service personnel. To the British it became our National Remembrance Day to honor the British and Commonwealth Dead. Our Armistice Day equates to your Memorial Day, not to your Veterans Day. We have a War Memorial in every town and city, and a Remembrance Parade at every War Memorial, either on Armistice Day itself or (calling it Remembrance Sunday) the Sunday before or, quite often, on both, Remembrance Sunday being more church-and-civilian-oriented and Armistice Day more uniforms and salutes.

We don't have a Veterans Day or anything like it in our calendar. We do have a poem which describes the English attitude to our servicemen though. Most people here recognize the truth of it.

Poems - Tommy
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Post by gmc »

I think that this sums up the sentiment better than mere words can

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DxkhBvO8_kM
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Post by FourPart »

LarsMac;1496419 wrote:

I believe that certain holidays should remain close to their original intent. Memorial Day should be about those who gave their lives in military service. To simply honor that specific sacrifice.

Yes, there are other people who gave their lives as firefighters, police, Road Construction workers, etc., etc. But this was meant for those who willfully walked into harm's way to defend their nation and their family. I think that every nation owes a debt to their citizens who made that sacrifice, and they deserve that distinctive respect.

We can have other days to remember those other people.

So, people such as Firefighters & Lifeboatmen don't willfully walk into harm's way, whereas conscripts, who were made to do so, under the threat of execution if they refused to obey, did? I find that most disrespectful to those who chose to risk their lives in all walks of life - particularly when knowing the potential risks. What about the ARPs & the Firefighters during the Blitz, putting their lives on the line, out in the open with bombs dropping around them. These were Civilians knowingly putting their lives in peril for the public good. Quite possibly "Conchies". Far from being cowards they were probably far braver than those who were conscripted for not only risking their lives, but facing the social derision of their own people.
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Post by LarsMac »

FourPart;1496462 wrote: So, people such as Firefighters & Lifeboatmen don't willfully walk into harm's way, whereas conscripts, who were made to do so, under the threat of execution if they refused to obey, did? I find that most disrespectful to those who chose to risk their lives in all walks of life - particularly when knowing the potential risks. What about the ARPs & the Firefighters during the Blitz, putting their lives on the line, out in the open with bombs dropping around them. These were Civilians knowingly putting their lives in peril for the public good. Quite possibly "Conchies". Far from being cowards they were probably far braver than those who were conscripted for not only risking their lives, but facing the social derision of their own people.



I am not arguing that these folks do not deserve to be recognized for their sacrifices. I have known men and women who gave their lives as firefighters, Police officers, and other public service jobs. I even knew "conchies" as you call them, who gave their lives for their country. I simply believe in keeping the focus of our Memorial Day where it is.
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Post by Mark Aspam »

tude dog;1496434 wrote: As a kid growing up I knew people referred to Arminianist day.
That's a new one on me. Maybe they were Arminian immigrants.
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Post by Saint_ »

spot;1496359 wrote:

The ambiguous wording does lead me to a question: Do Americans in general memorialize the war dead of those they fought as well as of their own, on Memorial Day?



Absolutely! On Memorial Day, I not only memorialize all my own family lost to the wars, those who survived and then died, but also every man, woman, and child lost to senseless war. I often chalenge my students to think of what mankind could accomplish if the money we waste on war was available for peaceful purposes!

On Monday I:

1. Displayed the flag of my grandfather who served in WWI. (It's huge, the size of a garage door!)

2. Displayed the flag of my father who served in WWII. (He flew P-47s and survived, but my family still considers him a slow-motion war casualty since he began smoking in the war and it eventually killed him.)

3. Displayed my flag. ( I am not dead.)

Then I searched for and found the movie "The Story of the Spitfire" starring David Niven and watched it as a memorial to the men and women of Great Britain who served ! So there you go! Proof positive!

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Post by tude dog »

Mark Aspam;1496495 wrote: That's a new one on me. Maybe they were Arminian immigrants.



Arimisti Day was changed when I was very young,

In 1954, President Eisenhower officially changed the name of the holiday from Armistice Day to Veterans Day.



VETERANS DAY FACTS

I can't tell you much other than I heard it.

Far as I know never knew of Arminians.
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Post by LarsMac »

tude dog;1496511 wrote: Arimisti Day was changed when I was very young,



VETERANS DAY FACTS

I can't tell you much other than I heard it.

Far as I know never knew of Arminians.



Arminians are anti-Calvinist Methodists.

Not sure why we would have a holiday for them.

I can remember when November 11 was Armistice Day.
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