Preserving the meaning of Memorial Day

Grand Rapids Home for Veterans Cemetery. (May 25, 2015)

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — Walking the grounds of the Grand Rapids Veterans Cemetery, Kenya Arnold placed a flower at the grave of her father, a U.S. Army veteran.

Her brother serves now. His tours in Iraq are a reminder of those who served with him, but didn’t come home on this Memorial Day.

“It should be a memory day, in order to remember the lives that were lost,” said Arnold.

But she fears some have forgotten what the day is all about.

“Some have, because they really don’t care anymore about it. They are not into it. They are more, sort of like just on their own,” said Arnold.

A recent book, “100 Questions and Answers About Veterans” written by a group of Michigan State University journalism students, tries to dispel commonly held assumptions about veterans.

One dealt with wishing veterans a happy Memorial Day. Something that is not appropriate, according to those who served.

“I would agree with that because what we’re celebrating really isn’t a happy thing,” said Korean War veteran Ervin Register.

Veterans have their day in November.

The observance of Memorial Day goes back to 1868 as a way to honor those who died on the battlefields of the Civil War.

And it’s just that, a day to remember those who made the ultimate sacrifice for their country.

Arnold says the schools could do a better job of reinforcing the meaning of Memorial Day in history lessons.

“Know more about the history as they get older.  From elementary, all the way up.  Know about their generation, what they fought for,” said Arnold.

But Register, who visited the grave of his brother and fellow soldier at the Grand Rapids Veteran’s Cemetery, sees a flip side.

That no matter how the holiday is observed, without it, those lives could be forgotten.

“If we didn’t do this, I would be afraid that the losses would be forgotten,” said Register. “But as long as we have a holiday like this… we will continue to memorialize these guys.”



History of Memorial Day

Memorial Day in the United States

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