|What is Honor?|
Life every man holds dear; but the dear man hold honor more precious than life.
William Shakespeare, English playwright
Although the custom of "Decoration Day" existed in America prior to the War Between the States, it was largely a personal remembrance of family members who had died. Young and old alike gathered around family plots to first clear graves of weeds and vines, and then to decorate them with flowers. Often the women brought large amounts of food to share with friends and other family members as they honored their loved ones through stories and reminiscences of days gone by. After the War Between the States, it became the practice to decorate the burial grounds of Union soldiers who perished during battle. A few years later, Confederate soldiers were so honored and Decoration Day was first observed nationwide on May 30, 1868.
Gradually, Decoration Day became known as "Memorial Day", particularly after World War II, and today honors all American service men and women who paid the ultimate price in fighting for liberty and justice for all.
Unfortunately, this day of honor has become less important to many Americans. A law was passed by Congress which took effect at the federal level in 1971, and moved four holidays, including Memorial Day from their traditional date to a specified Monday in order to create a convenient three-day weekend.
In 2002, a Veterans of Foreign Wars representative charged in a Memorial Day address that changing the date to merely create three-day weekends had "...undermined the very meaning of the day. No doubt, this has contributed a lot to the general public's nonchalant observance of Memorial Day." For many, Memorial Day now means an extra day off from work, shopping for bargains, or going on vacation. It has in fact, become the "beginning" of summer.
It is fitting that our young people be taught by example the value of honor among men. We must honor those that made our country great. While it is not perfect, we must honor our country and the freedoms we take for granted. We must teach our children how important it is to vote when they become of age.
We all have someone in authority over us...be it our employer or supervisor, our governmental representative, or our banker are examples Even though we may not agree with them on everything, we should pay them the respect and honor they deserve because of the position they hold or the responsibilities they bear.
We must honor our teachers, our parents, our families, the young and the old, by our actions, our reputations and the company we keep. We must teach our children to respect others and that it is not "cool" to bully or belittle anyone who may be different. We must respect the rights, culture and property of others.
We must honor ourselves with the lifestyle we live, by our goals and aspirations, through our faith, by the care we take of our health, our finances and our relationships with others. As Americans, we must value character in ourselves, and in the lives of others. We must strive to live honorably by a code of gratefulness, integrity, dignity and pride.