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A Brief History of Memorial Day

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Helmet, rifle and boot memorial

1.1 million. That’s a lot of anything. More impactful is that since the U.S. Civil War this is the number of American Servicemen and Servicewomen that have died in service to the United States. Throughout my time as a U.S. Navy Hospital Corpsman I witnessed some of these deaths. Some from old age after having served in legendary campaigns like the D-Day Invasion, the Battle of Inchon and even Desert Storm. Others died because of self inflicted wounds or suicide. Others, while serving were stricken with illness. But all of them served. Many of them died.

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LISTEN HERE: PPP77: The Long Weekend in May – A Brief History of Memorial Day
The history of Memorial Day is wrought with loss

So how did we get to the last weekend in May being the day we memorialize the fallen. How did Memorial Day come to be? It started after the Civil War in 1868. It was called ‘Decoration Day’ at first as a way to signify the decorating of the graves of those from the Confederacy and the Union Armies. The family left behind had opportunity to mark previously unmarked and sometimes forgotten graves. Over 100 years later, in 1971 ‘Memorial Day’ become a U.S. National holiday. Today we continue to honor the fallen on the last Monday in May and on Memorial Day at 1500 (3PM) whatever your local time we take a moment of silence or participate in ‘Taps Across America‘.

“Murph” WOD

Another, more modern tradition is the ‘Murph Challenge‘. This grueling workout is named after Lt. Michael Murphy whose SEAL Team was discovered, attached and 3 out of 4 of them died leaving one ‘Lone Survivor‘, Marcus Luttrell. The workout is to honor Lt. Murphy’s sacrifice made to save his team. If consists of a 1 mile run, 100 pull ups, 200 push ups, 300 air squats and another 1 mile run. It is very hard but an opportunity to commiserate with friends and family as we push our minds and bodies to the limit.

In ‘PPP77: The Long Weekend in May – A Brief History of Memorial Day’ I share some of the information above and perspective on how we as American’s can honor and remember all those of all creeds, religions and races that came before us.

Godspeed to all those that fell in service to the United States and to their families. ‘Thank you’ to all of you who read this blog and listen to the podcast.

Stay safe, wash your hands and Godspeed,

Kevin

Kevin Pannell, PMP, Creator & Host, ‘People, Process, Progress’ podcast
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