Graveside Chatter

Written by J, a member of the cemetery reclamation committee, who is also a mental health consumer and a veteran.  He was inspired to write this following visits to the cemeteries, as preparations were underway to hold the first of our annual Veteran’s Memorial Programs.  It is written from the perspective of those forgotten in the cemeteries.

Hey Jim, you awake?  I was wondering what you thought about that noise in May about us Veterans.  If I remember right they were talking about Memorial Day.  What is that?  I recall Armistice Day.  The key was the eleventh hour of the eleventh day on the eleventh month.  The war to end all wars would end.  You remember that?  Yeah.  But know what is really strange?

Memorial Day was not at one time a national holiday.  It started in 1873 in New York.  They were the first state to declare a holiday on May 30th.  It was not until the end of the 1800’s that the rest of the states joined in with New York and declared Memorial Day a holiday.  After World War I, Memorial Day was changed to honor all the dead in all American wars which started with the American Revolution.  The U.S. Congress declared Memorial Day a national holiday in 1971, and changed the date from May 30th to the last Monday in May.  That was to give workers a three day week-end.

Veteran’s Day is different.  In 1919, on the first aniversary of the World War I armistice, President Woodrow Wilson issued a proclamation expressing the pride of the country in the heroism of those who died during the war.  The observance of silence beginning at the 11th hour, the 11th day of the 11th month.  In 1938, the Congress of the United States declared that Armistice Day become a federal      holiday.  It was not until 1954 that the name of the holiday changed from Armistice Day to Veterans Day.  This was done to honor those who served in World War II and the Korean War.  Today this holiday honors all veterans.

So that is what happened Joe.  But you are right, I believe that many people do not know how the two holidays came into being.  Have you seen Roger?  He worked on the farm.  Anyway, I noticed the grounds where we lived.  It is all empty.  All the buildings are gone, even the farm.  What happened?  I hope those people were serious when they said, “Gone, but not forgotten.”