Memorial Day

According to the Library of Congress:

In 1868, Commander in Chief John A. Logan of the Grand Army of the Republic issued General Order Number 11 designating May 30 as a memorial day “for the purpose of strewing with flowers or otherwise decorating the graves of comrades who died in defense of their country during the late rebellion, and whose bodies now lie in almost every city, village, and hamlet churchyard in the land.”

The first national celebration of the holiday took place May 30, 1868 at Arlington National Cemetery … Originally known as Decoration Day, at the turn of the century it was designated as Memorial Day. In many American towns, the day is celebrated with a parade. …

In 1971, federal law changed the observance of the holiday to the last Monday in May and extended it to honor all soldiers who died in American wars. A few states continue to celebrate Memorial Day on May 30.

Jill thanked her grandfather for his service in the U.S. Navy when we visited the World War II Memorial in 2006. He said it was the first time anyone had ever thanked him — in 60 years. (He served four years, January 1942 until November 1945. He was 18 when he enlisted.)

Remember all who served — and today particularly those who gave their life.

Chuck Berry

Voyager 2, the first of two Voyager spacecraft (Voyager 2 was launched before Voyager 1 — go figure), was sent to explore the planets of our solar system on August 20, 1977.

Aboard each space craft is a Golden Record, “a 12-inch gold-plated copper disk containing sounds and images selected to portray the diversity of life and culture on Earth” so that extra-terrestials might learn about life on our planet. Among the music is Bach, Mozart, Beethoven, various native music and Chuck Berry performing “Johnny B. Goode.” 

If we ever hear from extra-terrestials, I imagine their message to us will be, “Send more Chuck Berry.”

It Should Be a Holiday

Charles Lindbergh was born on this date in 1902. He died in 1974.

Byron Nelson, the golfer who once won 11 PGA events in a row, 18 in one year and 52 overall including five majors, was born on this date in 1912. He retired in 1946 at age 34 and died 60 years later.

Miss Rosa Parks — the Soul of the Civil Rights movement — was born on this date in 1913. Miss Parks died in 2005.

Betty Friedan was born on this date in 1921; she died on her birthday in 2006. Friedan was a leading figure in the women’s movement in the United States and author of the 1963 book The Feminine Mystique.

Lawrence Taylor, the NFL hall-of-famer, is 58 today. NewMexiKen was at RFK the night Lawrence Taylor ended Joe Theismann’s career by smashing his leg. There were great linebackers before Taylor, but he was the first of the new breed.

George Washington was elected first President of the United States on this date in 1789 when all 69 electors voting cast their ballot for him. John Adams was second with 34, becoming Vice President. Ten other candidates received votes. (Each elector had two votes.)

The Yalta Conference began on this date in 1945. President Franklin D. Roosevelt of the United States, Prime Minister Winston Churchill of Great Britain, and Premier Joseph Stalin of the Soviet Union met to plan the final defeat and occupation of Nazi Germany.

Birthday Present

NewMexiKen was a Michigander in those days, though young enough to still be just a Michigosling.

Children didn’t get driven to school then. They walked. Or they took a bus. Or they rode a bike. And my bike was gone. Fortunately it was Saturday.

Still, it was my 11th birthday and it was depressing to have my bike missing on my birthday. We looked everywhere.

Finally Mom called the police. She described the vanished bike to them. “There was? Where? Downtown. OK!”

Dad and I drove the mile or so downtown to the bike shop. The missing bike was reportedly there.

We went in and Dad asked about the bike in our name. Sure enough, there was one.

Trouble was it wasn’t my bike. It was a brand new three-speed English racer.

“That’s not my bike.” I protested to Dad.

“Yes it is,” he said. “Happy Birthday!”