Memorial Day

The unofficial beginning of summer, weekend of swimming pool openings, the Indianapolis 500, spectacular sales at the mall, picnics, clogged highways, and excursions to the beach.

Lest we forget, Memorial Day began as Decoration Day, a day to honor the Civil War dead by decorating their graves with flowers. Although there were early accounts of memorial activities around the country, the “official” birth of Decoration Day stems from an idea by Henry C. Welles, a small town druggist in New York state, to decorate the graves of the Civil War dead. A year later, with the help of General John B. Murray, a civil war hero, the idea got off the ground and on May 5, 1966, the town not only decorated the graves, but the whole town and held a solemn march to the cemeteries.

In 1868, the commander-in-chief of the Grand Army of the Republic proclaimed May 30 to be a day for “decorating the graves of comrades who died in defense of their country during the late rebellion, and whose bodies now lie in almost every city, village, and hamlet churchyard in the land.”

By 1882, the day became more widely known as Memorial Day. In 1966 that New York town was officially declared the birthplace of Memorial Day. In 1971 its date was changed from May 30 to the last Monday of May.

The name of that New York town where Memorial Day originated and the reason why this is relevant to Risky Regencies??

Waterloo, NY

I’ve been steeped in research into the battle of Waterloo and so am more acutely aware than usual of the sacrifices of soldiers. Then and now.

My father was a soldier. He luckily was not required to engage in battle as much as other soldiers in WWII, but he did devote his life to being an Army Officer. So this is a thank you to him, to the soldiers of Waterloo, to those in the Civil War, and to those fighting and dying today.

Do you know a soldier, past or present? Tell us about him or her.

Next week, I’ll bring news from Book Expo America, where Amanda, Deb, and I will be signing The Diamonds of Welbourne Manor! See my Media page for the time and place.

About diane

Diane Gaston is the RITA award-winning author of Historical Romance for Harlequin Historical and Mills and Boon, with books that feature the darker side of the Regency. Formerly a mental health social worker, she is happiest now when deep in the psyches of soldiers, rakes and women who don’t always act like ladies.
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17 Responses to Memorial Day

  1. My Dad served in the Army for six years and saw combat duty in the Korean War. He served in the Air Force for twenty-one years and was sent into harm’s way in Vietnam to help get crashed planes out of the fight zones.

    He was and remains the most honorable man I have ever known. He had honors and medals we never knew about until he died because he refused to acknowledge them. He said “You don’t accept medals for doing your job.”

    Everything I know about courage, tenacity, patriotism, sacrifice and believing in my dreams I learned from my Dad. He always believed in me and in my ability to be anything I wanted to be.

    Few fathers realize how important it is to let their daughters know that.

    He once said to me “Honey, you are the most intelligent person I know, bar none.”

    He may never know just how much those words meant to me. I miss him every day.

  2. Diane Gaston says:

    O Doggie One, my father was very close-mouthed about his war days. I learned more about it from my uncle a few years ago. My uncle is not close-mouthed!

  3. We have a tradition of military service in my family going back at least as far as the American Revolution, though in the 20th century the men in my family managed to be the wrong age for most of the wars–grandfathers were too old for WWII, dad and uncles too young, older brothers just missed Vietnam, etc. But my dad spent two years in the Army after high school, serving in Germany in the early 50’s, one of my brothers did a stint in the Marines, and another brother went to West Point and spent 20 years in the mostly peacetime Army of the 80’s and 90’s.

    Now my oldest nephew, who’s only a few years younger than I am, is a captain in the Army National Guard. He’s already served a tour in Iraq and just recently arrived in Afghanistan. He’s the soldier in the top picture of this link:

    http://www.dod.state.ga.us/armyguard/arngpages/108thdeploys3_09t.html

  4. Diane Gaston says:

    Susan, that’s a family legacy to be proud of. And your nephew looks like a hero!

    I just hate it that our soldiers have to do so many tours. I just hate it!!

  5. Anonymous says:

    My oldest son spent 8 years in the Army Reserve, including one tour in Iraq, and now works as a counseler at Fort Meade, MD. He’s also working towards a Masters degree in counseling so he can improve his skills. I would not wish a year in Iraq on anyone, but he came home such a mature young man with such a sense of dedication to his fellow soldiers that I cannot help but admire him. I think of him and of all the soldiers, living and dead, and honor them today and every day.

    Susan/DC

  6. Diane Gaston says:

    Susan/DC, how proud you must be! I am, of course, all admiration for young people who want to go into counseling. How wonderful that your son is dedicated to his fellow soldiers. He must have an understanding of what they have experienced that others would not have.

    I was just at Ft. Meade not long ago for the Retired Military Wives luncheon and booksigning. I always feel at home on an army post.

  7. LadyDoc says:

    My father served in WWII in Greenland. There is a post about him at my blog right now- it is part of my participation in and encouragement of the Cards For Heroes program. Please check these out:

    http://ladydoc-tiltingatwindmills.blogspot.com/

    http://cardsforheroes.org/

  8. Helen says:

    Here in Australia we have ANZAC day in April with marches and lots of returned soldiers getting together.

    My Grandfather was in WW11 and although I never met him I do have a copy of his medical records he was shot and gased with mustard gas he came home but the gasing affected his lungs and he passed away at a fairly young age. I also have a cousin that went to the Vietnam war and he never speaks of that time.

    Have Fun
    Helen

  9. Diane Gaston says:

    The Vietnam War. I can hardly talk about that time myself, Helen, and I didn’t know anyone (except one cousin)who was sent there. I just felt like they were all my brothers. Had I been born male I would have gone there. I know I would.

  10. Jane Austen says:

    This comment has been removed by the author.

  11. One of my grandfathers served in the Navy in WWII (I posted his pic on my blog yesterday! He looked so handsome in his uniform, lol). My other grandfather tried to enlist, but they wouldn’t take him since he was deaf in one ear, so he spent the war building airplanes in California. I always remember them on this day.

  12. Mary Blayney says:

    You look so much like your dad Diane!

    My Dad was a WWII veteran who did talk about his war expereicnes — but only the funny ones or the ones that left us amazed at how lucky he was.

  13. Enid Wilson says:

    I do not know a soldier but I’m interested in post-Napoleon War for a story that I will be writing. How was the society in England like right after the war? Anyone has tips for me?

    Steamy Darcy

  14. Diane Gaston says:

    Enid, at Google Books I searched on England 1815 and several interesting books were available

    http://books.google.com/books?q=england+1815&btnG=Search+Books

    Hope that gives you a start!

  15. Judy says:

    My father served in Korea but blessedly didn’t see much action. For which he is truly grateful. He speaks of it only rarely. My uncle served in WWII. My sister-in-law’s father served in WWII and does not speak of it. My neighbor, two doors down, served in Vietnam and does not speak of it. The brother of the wife of the neighbor two doors down served several tours in Vietnam to spare someone else from having to serve. A family friend, more like a brother, served in Iraq and speaks with pride of the courage of the people trying to make changes for the better, both military and civilian. When he finished his tour, he volunteered to go back as a civilian to continue the work. We rejoice at every email. God bless our service men and women, wherever they are.

  16. Diane Gaston says:

    God bless our service men and women, wherever they are.Amen, Judy!!!

  17. Enid Wilson says:

    Thanks Diane, I will check the link out.

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