mdl     Memorial Daymdr

Memorial Day in the United States is a federal holiday, which mean that it is recognized by the United States Government and that all non-essential federal government offices, such as post offices, are closed on that day.  Some private banks and the stock exchange will also be closed and those who are required to work on this holiday sometimes receive wages for that day in addition to holiday pay. 

Memorial Day is observed on the last Monday of May and used be called Decoration Day because the graves were decorated with flowers.  This holiday is a day of remembrance for those who have died in our nation's service. It began first to honor Union soldiers who died during the American Civil War.
There are many stories as to its actual beginnings, with over two dozen cities and towns claiming to be the birthplace of Memorial Day. Organized women's groups in the South were decorating graves before the end of the Civil War. A hymn published in 1867, "Kneel Where Our Loves are Sleeping" by Nella L. Sweet carried the dedication "To The Ladies of the South who are Decorating the Graves of the Confederate Dead".  You can read the lyrics of this hymn on the bottom of this page.


Memorial Day was officially proclaimed on 5 May 1868 by General John Logan, national commander of the Grand Army of the Republic and was first observed on 30 May 1868, when flowers were placed on the graves of Union and Confederate soldiers at Arlington National Cemetery. The first state to officially recognize the holiday was New York in 1873. By 1890 it was recognized by all of the northern states. The South refused to acknowledge the day, honoring their dead on separate days until after World War I, when the holiday changed from honoring just those who died fighting in the Civil War to honoring Americans who died fighting in any war.


In 1966, the federal government, under the direction of President Lyndon Johnson, declared Waterloo, N.Y., the official birthplace of Memorial Day. They chose Waterloo, which had first celebrated the day on May 5, 1866, because the town had made Memorial Day an annual, community-wide event during which businesses closed and residents decorated the graves of soldiers with flowers and flags.
Today, Memorial Day is celebrated at Arlington National Cemetery with a ceremony in which a small American flag is placed on each grave. Also, it is customary for the president or vice-president to give a speech honoring the contributions of the dead and lay a wreath at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. About 5,000 people attend the ceremony annually.
Kneel Where Our Loves are Sleeping
by Nella L. Sweet

Kneel where our loves are sleeping, Dear ones days gone by,
Here we bow in holy reverence, Our bosoms heave the heartfelt sigh.
They fell like brave men, true as steel, And pour’d their blood like rain,
We feel we owe them all we have, And can but weep and kneel again.

Kneel where our loves are sleeping,
They lost but still were good and true,
Our fathers, brothers fell still fighting,
We weep, ‘tis all that we can do.

Here we find our noble dead, Their spirits soar’d to him above,
Rest they now about his throne, For God is mercy, God is love.
Then let us pray that we may live, As pure and good as they have been,
That dying we may ask of him, To open the gate and let us in.

Kneel where our loves are sleeping,
They lost but still were good and true,
Our fathers, brothers fell still fighting,
We weep, ‘tis all that we can do.”




Idioms and Expressions
arms race - competition among nations for military strength
lay down one's arms - stop fighting
to be up in arms - to be angry about, to be protesting strongly
bear arms -  to carry weapons, to serve as a member of the military
a fighting chance - a fair chance, a good chance
fight tooth and nail - to fight very hard
fight fire with fire - fight using the same methods as your opponent
half the battle - half of the job done
dig your own grave - cause your own failure
stick to your guns - refuse to change one's idea
to  jump the gun - to begin a race before the starting signal, to act too hastily. 
to spike someone's guns - to frustrate or prevent someone from accomplishing a plan
under the gun - under pressure
go great guns - to proceed or perform with great speed, skill, or success
hold a gun to (someone's) head - to put pressure on someone.
under arms -  ready for battle; trained and equipped
take up arms -  to prepare for war, go to war
fight it out - to fight until a decision is reached
fight shy of -  to avoid meeting or confronting
to give battle -  to attack an enemy
drawn battle-  one in which neither party gains the victory.
to join battle -  to meet the attack, to engage in battle.