Memorial Day far more than just a 3-day weekend

Wednesday, May 22, 2019
The late Calvin Smith, an honored veteran, is a Purple Heart recipient and former member of VFW Post 2203. Contributed photo

When people are out and about celebrating Memorial Day this year, they should take time to consider what the holiday is really all about.

While enjoying themselves, they should consider the millions of veterans who have gone on before them in service to this country and the freedom everyone are privileged to enjoy.  

Memorial Day is celebrated on the last Monday each year in May. This year, the date is May 27.

Memorial Day's origins date back to 1864 when a group of women from Pennsylvania, wishing to honor the men who had died fighting during the Civil War, began decorating graves of deceased Union soldiers. Word spread, and in 1866 women in Mississippi took up that tradition as well. Once the practice of decorating the graves of fallen soldiers spread to the South, the tradition became widely referred to as "Decoration Day.” On May 5, 1868, General John Logan made the day official when he directed that flowers be placed on the graves of both Union and Confederate soldiers at the National Cemetery in Arlington, Va.  

After World War II, it became a day to honor all deceased veterans of any war or service instead of just those who had died in the Civil War. While it is not a national holiday, is is a federal holiday and is intended as a time to honor those fallen veterans.

To fully appreciate this Federal Holiday, in addition to time spend with loved ones, people may visit a cemetery and place flowers and/or a flag on the graves of one or more fallen hero or visit a memorial dedicated to veterans. Perhaps fly the American flag at half-staff until noon. At 3:00 p.m., pause for the National Moment of Remembrance of what freedom means and the people responsible for that freedom.

Epitomizing the intended purpose of the federal holiday, Shell Knob recently celebrated the life of one such fallen hero. On the 6th of June 1944, a young Army soldier, Calvin Smith was one such brave soldier who fought for his country. Calvin Smith contributed to the success of the absolute largest military invasion in the history of mankind. SZmith drove a tank onto the beaches of Normandy, France on D-Day. Calvin survived the war, but was wounded and earned a purple heart during his time in service.

Shell Knob's VFW Memorial Post 2203 honors those fallen by offering Buddy Poppies at local businesses (donations accepted) on the Friday and Saturday preceding Memorial Day. As an honor to each such veteran interred in Shell Knob cemeteries, Post members will be placing a flag at their headstones.

A short commemoration service will be held on May 27 at 11 a.m. at Lake Side Memorial Cemetery. Immediately after the service, Jim Fohn of Fohn Funeral Homes will be providing the barbecue at the post on Highway 39, just north of town. The public is invited and encouraged to attend the ceremony and then the follow-on luncheon.