What You Didn't Know about Memorial Day
Three-day weekends, travel plans, online sales. So often the original intent behind our holidays gets lost in the shuffle.
For me Memorial Day was always one of those holidays that I wasn’t really sure about. It conjured up images of summer time, American flags on TV commercials, and a maybe a parade?
I had a sinking feeling there must be more to this day than car dealerships and mattresses. So I started digging a bit. It turns out Memorial Day observances have roots going back to the Civil War – where tribute was paid to those who died in military service. Think: small towns, political speeches, and visits to cemeteries.
Fast forward to May 11th, 1950 when Congress decided to make Memorial Day a federal holiday. The law they enacted calls on the President to “issue a proclamation calling upon the people of the United States to observe each May 30th, Memorial Day, by praying, each in accordance with his religious faith, for permanent peace…”
Did you catch that? It says to pray for permanent peace. Permanent Peace!
I don’t remember anyone ever mentioning anything about permanent peace on Memorial Day weekend, but there it is. Clear as day in federal law 36 USC 116. There are a few other interesting gems in there if you are looking for more inspiration in unexpected places.
OK so now what? Should you cancel your weekend plans?
Instead carve out some time to meditate on permanent peace. Reflect on it. Do you believe in the possibility of permanent peace? Can you imagine the end of war? Think big.
Peace begins within. What is going on externally is just a reflection what is going on inside us. If you want to bring about peace it’s best to start with yourself. Yoga and meditation are both great tools for tapping into your own inner peace. Ask yourself if your actions are contributing to a more peaceful world. Is the information you consume contributing to more peace of mind for yourself? What about the food you eat or the people you surround yourself with?
Check with your local yoga studio for special Memorial Day classes. My friend and fellow Dharma Yoga teacher Nicole Fitzwater Boyle offers a free annual Memorial Day community yoga class at her studio In Balance Yoga in Blacksburg, VA. Other studios around the country will be doing the same.
If you are going away for the weekend, carve out time to meditate on permanent peace. Have a discussion with friends and family. Ask yourself if there is one thing you can do this summer to bring your actions more in line with your values. Share the real meaning of Memorial Day this weekend.