These days Memorial Day is not just a day but a three day weekend and the start of the summer season. Congress moved Memorial Day to the last Monday in May in the 1970s. I like BBQs, pool parties and picnics as much as the next person, but I also do not want to loose sight of what Memorial Day was meant to honor.
|Postcard of first official Memorial Day held at Arlington National Cemetery 1868|
Image from the Library of Congress Chronicling America Collection.
The tradition of service runs deep in our family. My daughter, niece, husband, brother, father, uncles and grandfathers all served. These lines can be traced back to the Revolutionary War and beyond to the French and Indian War, King Phillip's War etc. Two of these family members made the ultimate sacrifice; Theodore William Clarke and Phelps Wilson Long, Junior.
|Fifer Theodore Clarke of the First Nebraska Infantry, Company C|
Image is reverse of tintype in author's possession.
|PFC Phelps Wilson Long, Junior, US Marine Corps|
Image from collection shared with author by his sister, Shirley Long Collins.
Both of these family members had their lives ended far too soon. They did not get to experience the joys of marriage, parenthood and growing older. They left behind families who were devastated by their loss. Tomorrow on Memorial Day, let us remember them and their sacrifices. They should not be forgotten.