May 7, 2009

Decoration Day

As long as I can remember, my family has celebrated Decoration Day at Middleburg cemetery where my grandparents and many of my paternal ancestors are buried. I always thought this was a normal ritual and that every cemetery designated such a day but it seems that is not the case. Decoration Day was started as a way to honor those who gave their lives for our country by visiting and decorating their graves. That is what’s evolved into Memorial Day. But some families, communities and cemeteries still celebrate Decoration Day as a general celebration of family and those who’ve left us.

Middleburg Decoration Day has always consisted of my family getting together after church one Sunday afternoon for a potluck lunch and some socializing. A few would actually make a trip to the cemetery to place flowers, clean up around the grave markers and wander the grounds. What a great opportunity to teach the next generation about their ancestors. I’ll admit as a young child, I rarely went to the cemetery on Decoration Day. But, if you’re a frequent reader of this blog, you know I now never miss a trip to a cemetery.

Unfortunately, I was unable to attend this year’s Decoration Day at Middleburg but I heard my sister started a new tradition with her kids. They went to the cemetery to visit the grave of our grandmother who passed away last year. My nieces wrote notes to their late great-grandmother and tied them to helium balloons and then released them. What a fun new tradition!

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