Memorial Day is the holiday set aside to remember the men and women who gave their lives while serving this country. To say thank you for their supreme sacrifice.
Because parades and gatherings are cancelled this Memorial Day weekend, retired Air Force bugler Jari Villanueva and CBS News “On the Road” correspondent Steve Hartman are asking buglers and trumpet players across the country to stand on their porches this Memorial Day at 3 p.m. local time and play “Taps.”
The rest of us can pause for a moment to remember the men and women who made the ultimate sacrifice serving this country as well as all the victims of the coronavirus pandemic while maintaining social distancing guidelines.
If you’d like to dust off your trumpet or bugle and sound the call, click here for directions on how to participate.
If you’re not a bugler then perhaps you can play a version of Taps from YouTube like this one.
On this day in 1945 the World War II Allies formally accepted the unconditional surrender of Adolf Hitler’s Third Reich.
A copy of The New York Times published May 8, 1945, bearing Kennedy’s scoop (AP/Rick Bowmer)
A side note about the day:
The news came to the U.S. via Edward Kennedy— not the late Democratic senator from Massachusetts but a man by the same name who was the chief correspondent in Europe for the AP in 1945 and had watched the signing in person.
Unfortunately, Supreme Allied Commander Gen. Dwight Eisenhower had imposed a news blackout on the surrender, under orders from President Truman. Kennedy defied the order and sent the news out anyway.
His defiance backfired instead of the greatest scoop of his career, it was the scoop from. Allied headquarters stripped away his press credentials, denounced him personally for breaking the rules, and expelled him from liberated France to New York, where the AP promptly fired him. In 2012, he finally won a posthumous apology.
Newsbreak or unethical double cross? That is the question even among news reporters today. In our day of Twitter and Instagram, it’s hard to believe Kennedy was the only reporter in 1945 willing to break the news blackout.
The day set aside to show appreciation to all active duty service members. Not to be confused with Veterans Day (November 11) or Memorial Day (May 27 this year). Both of those days commemorate the men and women who died while in the military service.
Originally called Decoration Day, many wear red poppies on Memorial Day which symbolize the red poppies that grew on a battlefield in Belgium during World War I and immortalized by Canadian Lt. Colonel John McCrae’s poem, In Flanders Fields.
Moina Michaels, an American professor, wrote her own poem in 1918.She was also the first to wear a poppy, and sold poppies to her friends and co-workers with the money benefiting servicemen in need. Four years later, the VFW became the first veterans’ organization to sell poppies nationally.
A little side note about this day:
A Memorial Day picnic and poppies play a prominent role in the love story of Green Beret Alex Cabot and Department of Army Civilian Lily Reed, The Pendant’s Promise.
Then there are high school graduations, college graduations, birthday parties, and Mothers’ Day.
Last important day in May, though not nationally celebrated or recognized, is our wedding anniversary on May 30. Fifty-six years and counting—a rarity these days.
A holiday set aside to remember the men and women who gave their lives while serving this country.
Not to be confused with Veterans Day or Armed Forces Day, which celebrate the service of all U.S. military veterans, living or dead.
Memorial Day is also the day my sweetie and I shared our wedding vows.
No, we were not married on the last Monday in May, but on May 30th — the original date designated as Memorial Day, or Decoration Day as it was first known.
We picked the holiday for our wedding because we wanted to make the date easy to remember.
Then on June 28, 1968, the Congress passed the Uniform Monday Holiday Act, which moved Memorial Day, along with four other holidays, in order to create a convenient three-day weekend.
It’s okay though, we still remember our anniversary every year.
But I think people have forgotten the true origins of Memorial Day.
Memorial Day has become a long weekend more devoted to shopping, family gatherings, fireworks, trips to the beach, and national media events than remembering those who have given their lives in military service.
This Memorial Day weekend along with the hot dogs, hamburgers and swimming, I want to honor and remember those who have gone before with this video of TAPS being played by a ninety-two year old vet. A heartfelt thank you to those who have lost loved ones serving our country. I’m sincerely grateful to all of you.
“There is something singularly beautiful and appropriate in the music of this wonderful call. Its strains are melancholy, yet full of rest and peace. Its echoes linger in the heart long after its tones have ceased to vibrate in the air.” Quote from an article by Master Sergeant Jari A Villanueva, USAF
Words to Taps
Day is done,
gone the sun,
From the hills,
from the lake,
From the skies.
All is well,
God is nigh.
Go to sleep,
May the soldier
On the land
or the deep,
Safe in sleep.
Love, good night,
Must thou go,
When the day,
And the night
Need thee so?
All is well.
To their rest.
Fades the light;
And the stars
Fare thee well;
Day has gone,
Night is on.
Thanks and praise,
For our days,
‘Neath the sun,
Neath the stars,
‘Neath the sky,
As we go,
This we know,
God is nigh.
While many of us consider this month to signal the beginning of summer, we also need to think about all the military centered observances in May.
Today is one of four dates set aside for honoring military in the U.S.
On Tuesday 8 May 1945 the World War II Allies formally accepted the unconditional surrender of Adolf Hitler’s Third Reich. Today we celebrate that victory.
There’s a fascinating story of the firing of Edward Kennedy the AP correspondent who broke the story– perhaps the greatest scoop in history– and was then furiously denounced and expelled from liberated France. He won a posthumous apology from an ungrateful employer after 50 years last Friday. Click here to read.
May 22th is National Maritime Day. A day set aside to observe the U.S.’s proud maritime heritage and honor the men and women who serve and have served as merchant mariners.
Lastly, May 28th is Memorial Day. Originally called Decoration Day, it’s a day of remembrance for those who have died in our nation’s service. Many wear red poppies on Memorial Day which symbolize the red poppies that grew on a battlefield in Belgium during World War I and immortalized by Canadian Lt. Colonel John McCrae’s poem, In Flanders Fields.
Moina Michaels, an American professor, was inspired to write her own poem in 1918, which included the lines:
We cherish too, the Poppy red That grows on fields where valor led. It seems to signal to the skies That blood of heroes never dies.
Michaels was the first to wear a poppy, and sold poppies to her friends and co-workers with the money benefiting servicemen in need. Four years later, the VFW became the first veterans’ organization to nationally sell poppies.
You’ll find a reference to the poem in my soon-to-be released book The Pendant’s Promise. And, a Memorial Day picnic plays a prominent role in the love story of Alex and Lily.
May is indeed a month with opportunities to honor our miitary. On each of these days, my family will be pausing to remember and recognize those of have and are serving. And, no doubt, we’ll all be hearing TAPS played at one or more of these celebrations. It’s the song generally played on a bugle or trumpet that sounds at dusk, during flag ceremonies, at funerals, particularly by the U.S. military, and often at Boy Scout and Girl Scout/Guide meetings and camps.
I recently learned that 2012 is the 150th anniversary of TAPS. Read the complete story of TAPS from blogger Diane Kalas
Besides the end-of-school/graduation parties and beginning of summer celebrations, will you be celebrating any of these military holidays in the merry, merry month of May?