This is an interesting holiday. All my growing up years I never knew what it was for. We talked a little about veterans in school and remembering those who died in the war, but it was always very vague. I just thought it was a strange reason to get out of school, have the banks close and get off of work!
The valley where my husband grew up is a conglomerate of small towns, the largest has a population of about 3,000. Each town has a cemetery. The whole valley is related to eachother so, if you live there, you have relatives buried in most of the towns. When I got married I was surprised to find a whole different culture surrounding Memorial Day.
In my husband's family, the whole weekend is spent driving from cemetery to cemetery decorating the graves of loved ones with flowers. I say flowers, but that is just what my in-laws bring. We've seen graves that have elaborate decorations including anything from pinwheels to stuffed animals and more. While they are visiting the various cemeteries, they see everyone they know and the day is spent chatting and catching up with people to seldom seen. On a few of these "Decoration Days" that I've been in attendance at, they pack lunches and we picnic graveside!
My mother-in-law knows every story and who is who's uncle or aunt or cousin or great-great-grandmother. She has a vast knowledge of their family history and she knows many stories about each one. It is rather impressive! She tells stories of these loved ones who passed on and we all listen remembering bits to hopefully tell to future generations. It is a beautiful tradition that has changed my idea of what Memorial Day means.
What does Memorial Day mean to you?