BRISTOL, TN/VA (WJHL-TV) – Not every Memorial Day ceremony was held on Monday, dozens of people gathered in Bristol at noon to honor the men and women who have made the ultimate sacrifice.
Originally, Decoration Day was celebrated on May 30 when it was established shortly after the Civil War. People would decorate the graves of fallen soldiers with flowers. Then, after World War I, the name was changed to Memorial Day but it was still celebrated on May 30. Then, in the mid to late 1960’s, it was changed to the last Monday in the month of May.
“Memorial Day has been May 30th for the longest time, and then Congress, in its infinite wisdom, said hey, lets have a holiday. And back in the mid to late 60’s, Lyndon Johnson proposed that we get Monday off as Memorial Day,”, U.S. Navy retired Commander Harvey Anderson said, “Memorial Day has been trivialized, because most people on Memorial Day, they’re going out to the lake, go to the beach, bar-be-cue, things like that. It’s not about that. It’s not the kickoff of summer. It’s about honoring our war dead.”
But the cities of Bristol, Tennessee and Bristol, Virginia continued their tradition of holding their Memorial Day ceremony on May 30 at the War Memorial in downtown. The ceremony kicked of at noon with the traditional raising of the American flag from half staff to full followed by a prayer, the pledge of allegiance and the national anthem. A group of Sullivan East High School ROTC students performed a “passing of the flag” ceremony and a wreath was placed in front of a flag draped casket as a 21 gun salute was followed by the playing of taps.
“This service today is bout our fallen comrades, those that have died in service, those that perished since then, this is in remembrance of them. This is not a three day holiday for us. This is a remembrance. We don’t do the hamburger/hot dog thing as part of this. This is a service for the fallen comrades.”, Bristol Fraternal Veterans and Civic Counsel’s Richard Ball said.
Many feel that Memorial Day is felt more as a day for going to the lake, cookouts, shopping or having a three day weekend than remembering those that have fallen in defense of the United States.
Anderson added, “Everyday should be Memorial Day. We should honor these men and women every day. So Bristol, Tennessee and Bristol, Virginia continue to honor them on May 30.”
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