Remembering the real reason for Memorial Day
As we look at the ceremonies going on for the Memorial Day weekend, the controversy continues about whether such a weekend should exist.
No one is debating the idea of having a national day of remembrance to honor those who’ve fallen serving their country.
But to many people, Memorial Day is the symbol of summer’s start, or a chance to get a good bargain on a car. What’s lost is its original meaning to many people.
The proponents of the day’s original meaning point to the fact it should always be on May 30, no matter the day of the week, as a way for more people to recall why people made the ultimate sacrifice for their nation.
The Uniform Holidays Bill of 1968 moved the holiday to the last Monday in May. Originally, Veterans Day also was in the list of government holidays slated to always be on a Monday, but it was moved back to its original day of November 11 in 1978.
For years, efforts to do so by the VFW, the American Legion, and Senator Daniel Inouye of Hawaii haven’t succeeded.
Inouye, who died on December 12 at the age of 88, wasn’t just a senior member of Congress. He was at Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941, as a medical volunteer. He later enlisted in the Army and lost an arm serving his country while in Italy.
You can read his incredible story here.
Inouye had often introduced bills to make Memorial Day a permanent holiday on May 30, most recently in January 2012.
The Senate Judiciary Committee usually tabled the bill so it couldn’t reach a full debate in the Senate.
There’s always a chance that the Senate could reintroduce and debate the bill in the future. But so far, the current Congress hasn’t acted.
According to the congressional record, the Inoyue bill to recognize a fixed date for Memorial Day hasn’t been introduced in the current Congress.
It would be a fitting tribute to Inouye and all the veterans who didn’t come back to at least spend a few minutes in public discussion about the subject of the traditional Memorial Day holiday.
The Navy announced last Thursday it will name one of its next two destroyers in honor of Inouye.
Scott Bomboy is the editor-in-chief of the National Constitution Center.
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