What does Memorial Day mean to you and your family?
Each year we honor those service men and women who are no longer with us on Memorial Day. But, not everyone holds traditional American values and many people living in America aren't citizens or are recent immigrants. Others consider Memorial Day weekend as a time to party, camp-out, or engage in other forms of entertainment. So has the day lost it's meaning? What are your thoughts?
I know many families of different generations who still travel to cemeteries to lay wreaths for military relatives and friends who have died in war. Ohio Native Americans have Memorial Day pow wows for natives and all races in the military.
Although I have no living family, I commemorate my more recent and older ancestors who died or were wounded in the military service:
1) My many-times great grandfather who was Mohawk and had taken the surname Taylor (no record of first name or Mohawk name): Translated French, British English, and Mohawk/other Iroquois languages at the Siege of Fort Pitt, 1763. This was Pontiac's War against the British who broke treaty of Easton with Native Americans after the English defeated the French and the natives therefore abandoned ties with those French. The English gave 2 blankets, a sheet, and a handkerchief from small pox patients to the natives, who died.
2) Mohawk Chief Thayendanega/Joseph Brant, a distant cousin: 1775 - 1983, Revolutionary War. Brant translated for four Iroquois nations, British military, and Loyalists, all of whom were defeated by the Colonists and two other Iroquois nations.
3) War of 1812-1814: Mohawk Chief John Norton of the Iroquois, a distant relative, fought against the US and with the English, trying to hold native lands in southern Quebec and eastern Ontario. Even though the US won, at lest 10,000 Americans, including some Native Americans, were imprisoned at Dartmoor in England until 1815.
4) All six Iroquois Nations, including some distant cousins: WWI. They declared war on Germany in 1918, were never included in treaties, and re-declared war on Germany in 1941 before the rest of the USA became involved after Pearl Harbor. Natives did not receive US citizenship until 1924. In 1942, all six nations of Iroquois declared war on all the Axis Powers. However, at lest one Mohawk Code Talker from Canada served, awarded the Congressional Silver Medal at age 94 in 2016.
5) H. M. Inglish: American Civil War.
6) Frank ___, Aunt Sally's husband, WWII European Theater. Purple Heart. I never met him or Sally.
7) H. M. Inglish III: WWII, European Theater. Purple Heart.
8) Several uncles and great uncles I never met: WWII.
These are the military members I know about - I know very little about many of them. I remember them on Memorial Day, but also throughout the year as I hear and read about all the wars, riots, political conflicts, and protests in which America is involved. There is a lot of meaning left!
Memorial day for me is a reminder to be thankful for those who died while serving our nation in the military. Personally, I think of family members who died during WWII and ponder those who served during the Civil War. I give a moment of pause while actually give thought. During my life I have always worked this day, so it has no celebratory significance or attached traditions.
Having had several family members who served in WWII, including an aunt in the WAVES, Memorial Day was always given respect around my family while I was growing up. We were fortunate that they all came home alive and physically intact. My husband is a Vietnam veteran and his father served in WWII, so how can we forget. I am a member of the Daughters of the American Revolution, and that group always plans celebrations and ceremonies around Memorial Day in which we honor our living as well as our deceased veterans. Sometimes I have to work, depending on what kind of a deadline my agency is on, so I don't always get to participate.
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