Memorial Day is a United States federal holiday observed on the last Monday of May.

Formally known as Decoration Day, it commemorates U.S. men and women who died in military service. According to Wikipedia, Decoration Day was first observed on May 30, 1868. The alternative name of Memorial Day was first used in 1882. It was declared the official name by federal law in 1967.

On June 28, 1968, the United States Congress passed the Uniform Holidays Bill, which moved three holidays from their traditional dates to a specific Monday in order to create a convenient three-day weekend. The change moved Memorial Day from its traditional May 30 date to the last Monday in May. The law took effect in 1971.

I remember well, as a boy, the considerable effort made by communities in observing Decoration Day. Cemeteries and graveyards were mowed and trimmed well in advance, and graves were decorated with beautiful flowers.

Decoration Day was first observed to honor the fallen in the Civil War. The day’s celebration was expanded after World War I.

Many people observe this holiday by visiting cemeteries and memorials. With the passing of the years, many have chosen this day to honor all dead, not just those who died in military service.

Some Americans view Memorial Day as the unofficial beginning of summer and Labor Day as the unofficial end of the season. Sadly, for an increasing number of Americans, Memorial Day is viewed as, simply, another paid holiday.

It is vitally important to the health of a free society that we remember — that we remember who we are, that we remember our journey as a nation, that we remember our freedom has come at no small price. We must remember that thousands upon thousands of lives have been cut short in freedom’s cause. We must never forget their bravery

and courage.

This Memorial Day week, I will visit the graves of my grandparents. They were soldiers in a different struggle. But they were soldiers — good soldiers.

My grandmother, Amy Manning McCall, was one of the sweetest, kindest persons I have ever known. Hugging her was like hugging a big, down-filled pillow. I never heard her speak an unkind word.

My grandfather, D.T. McCall, had a wily, cantankerousness about him. If ever I met a natural-born salesman, it was D.T McCall. He had the savvy, the drive, the creativity, the optimism, the desire to solve the customer’s problem, the spizzerinctum, all the great salesmen have. He was the downright toughest man I ever met. I will honor his memory this week.

My grandmother, Lena Bradford Brim, was a little bow-legged woman. In the Riddleton community of yester-year, she was known to all as Miss Lena.

She was an excellent seamstress, an even better cook … and well into her nineties, she could work a crossword puzzle with the best of them. If she said it once, she said it a thousand times, “Be the job big or small, do it well or not at all.”

My grandfather, Will Herod Brim, known to many as John Reuben, died on Nov. 12, 1963. The past 58 years seem like a blur. But my memories of him are still vibrant. I’ll recall my favorites this Memorial Day week.

I’ve always contended that Middle Tennessee was a great place to grow up.

There were so many fine people whom I remember.

And I could write a book about my late mother and father, Mary Helen Brim McCall and Frank T. McCall, but I’ll save that for another day.

On this Memorial Day, don’t let the opportunity to offer prayers of thanks for those you have known and loved pass you by.

Copyright 2021 by Jack McCall

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