EDITORIAL: The reason for the holiday
Flags are blossoming all around York County.
Small versions of the Stars and Stripes are being placed by Scouts, Gold Star Mothers and veterans, by high school groups, churches and VFWs.
Each flag is a reminder of the price others have paid for our country.
Throughout every cemetery in the United States, the living have spent time preparing to commemorate those who died in war.
Prospect Hill Cemetery is blooming with tiny flags placed on the graves of soldiers from every war since the American Revolution.
Deb Etheridge, whose son, Spc. Zachary Clouser, was killed in action July 18, 2007, in Iraq, and a few high school students recently placed 600 flags there, and there were still 1,000 more graves to mark.
This weekend, tiny flags will be lined up in rows in cemeteries from Gettysburg to Arlington and Pearl Harbor to Normandy.
Americans have few solemn occasions as a nation. We like noisy parades, fireworks, rock bands. Introspection, remembrance and stillness are not part of our character.
But on Memorial Day, we take the time to remember.
Nationally, Decoration Day began after the Civil War, when the graves at Arlington National Cemetery were decorated on May 30, 1868, according to the Library of Congress. Local commemorations are documented before that, including one in Boalsburg, Centre County, in 1864.
Many Southern states refused to take part in the national holiday until the turn of the century, when the day became a time to remember those who had fallen in all wars fought for the United States.
The holiday has evolved. It was moved from May 30 to the last Monday in May in 1971, and since then it has become the unofficial beginning of summer.
There's nothing wrong with that. Pool parties, beach visits and cookouts are quintessentially American, and a three-day weekend when the weather is warming up is a perfect time to celebrate.
But in the midst of the splashing and sizzling, we are all asked to take a moment to remember that Memorial Day isn't really a celebration. It's a commemoration of lives spent fighting for our freedoms.
There are parades and events on Monday, including a wreath-laying ceremony at 11 a.m. Monday, May 27, at Penn Park.
At 3 p.m. Monday, all Americans are asked to pause for a National Moment of Remembrance. Some people use the moment to play taps.
Take a moment to pause and reflect all the flags that have sprung up at the end of spring and the lives behind them.