This holiday was originally called Decoration Day, to honor Civil War veterans, then later broadened to include all veterans of all wars. From my childhood, this day meant a lot. My father, old enough actually to be my grandfather, was a dental corps veteran of World War I. He taught my sister and I how to march, salute, and make beds with square corners -- all of which he learned in the Army. Each May, the local V.F.W. sold poppies in support of disabled veterans. And on what is now called Memorial Day, we spent time marching, just like the Marine Band below, then moved to the cemetery for a formal ceremony that honored veterans of all wars. My father's name is inscribed on one of the military crosses there. I have a photo that I cannot find right now of my son James, at about age four, standing next to that cross and saluting. Here are some wonderful Washington DC parade photos instead.
U.S. Marine band marches down Constitution Avenue.
I have been an antiwar activitist most of my life, but always try to take a moment to remember all those who died in service to our country on this day. The next time you run into a member of the military service, just step right up and thank them. We take our freedoms entirely too much for granted.