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MEMORIAL DAY – A Time to Remember

It’s an awesome sight – row upon row of uniform white gravestones, each with a small American flag. The grass is verdantly green. The trees majestic. Far from the horror that brought many of the permanent residents to Arlington National Cemetary.

There are 147 national cemeteries across the United States. In addition the American Battle Monuments Commission maintains twenty-five American burial grounds overseas, most caring for the remains of men killed in World Wars I and II.


Like Arlington, the American Military Cemetary at Normandy, France is well-maintained. A silent witness to battles we seldom think about any more.


Commemorative ceremonies occur to break up the stillness. This photo depicts members of the American and Philippines military participating in a 2014 Memorial Day Ceremony at the Manila American Cemetery.


After the American civil war veterans of the Union army established what was first called Decoration Day as a time to place flowers on the graves of Union war dead. They chose May 30 as the date, because no particular battle had been fought that day. Over time, the day to honor those who died in battle became known as Memorial Day.

Roll Call of Honor Remembrance Ceremony, 2007 National Cemetery of the Pacific


Take a moment to remember why we honor Memorial Day.


Featured Image: Memorial Day at Arlington National Cemetery, 2012. Public Domain. Wikimedia Commons.


American Military Cemetery at Normandy. Public Domain. Wikimedia Commons.

Members of U.S. And Philippine military at 2014 Memorial Day ceremony at the Manila American Cemetery. Public Domain. Wikimedia Commons.

Roll Call of Honor in Remembrance Ceremony, National Cemetery of the Pacific, 2007. Public Domain. Wikimedia Commons.
American Battle Monuments Commission
Memorial Day 2014 at Manila American Cemetery

Author Sandra Wagner Wright

Sandra Wagner-Wright holds the doctoral degree in history and taught women’s and global history at the University of Hawai`i. Sandra travels for her research, most recently to Salem, Massachusetts, the setting of her new Salem Stories series. She also enjoys traveling for new experiences. Recent trips include Antarctica and a river cruise on the Rhine from Amsterdam to Basel.

 Sandra particularly likes writing about strong women who make a difference. She lives in Hilo, Hawai`i with her family and writes a blog relating to history, travel, and the idiosyncrasies of life.

One thoughts on “MEMORIAL DAY – A Time to Remember”

  1. Jon, Matt, and I visited the National Cemetery of the Pacific (Punchbowl) some years ago. My cousin John Campbell is buried there – died on Okinawa during the last days of the war in 1945. My Aunt went there for the burial but could not bring herself to go again. What surprised me is that the grave markers are all flat – not the rows of crosses and stars of David usually shown in photos. My other cousin (John’s brother Lloyd) lived in Honolulu for many years and we visited him also. His wife told us that Lloyd does not think it is John’s remains buried there as the personal belongings returned by the army contained many things that did not belong to John. I will not describe the condition of the body as Lloyd did – but the Japanese military did not treat the American dead with any respect. Without DNA it would be impossible to know what pieces belonged to whom. Today that would not be acceptable but back then it was better to think they had the body than to be told that the person was missing. Many thousands of war dead are still missing from that war.
    In Germany Mak and I visited some local cemeteries in small towns in southern Germany. There would be grave stones with photos of young men in uniform- date of birth and a statement -lost on the Eastern Front with a year but no specific date. So many of the German (and Russian dead) were never recovered. Families put up head stones to honor their lost sons.
    I never met my cousin John – he and Lloyd were much older and grew up in California. He was a first Lieutenant in the Army and served in the Pacific theatre. Lloyd was a pilot in the Air Force and was stationed in England. Lloyd was recalled to the Air Force to serve in Korea as a Jet Pilot as well. War is hell – only truly stupid people glorify war.


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