Wednesday, May 23, 2018

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History of Memorial Day

The custom of honoring ancestors by cleaning cemeteries and decorating graves is an ancient and worldwide tradition, but the specific origin of Memorial Day, or Decoration Day as it was first known, are unclear.

In early rural America, this duty was usually performed in late summer and was an occasion for family reunions and picnics. After the Civil War, America’s need for a secular, patriotic ceremony to honor its military dead became prominent, as monuments to fallen soldiers were erected and dedicated, and ceremonies centering on the decoration of soldiers’ graves were held in towns and cities throughout the nation.

After World War I, the day expanded to honor those who have died in all American wars.
No less than 25 places have been named in connection with the origin of Memorial Day, and states observed the holiday on different dates. In 1971, Memorial Day became a national holiday by an act of Congress; it is now celebrated on the last Monday in May.

Since it all started with the Civil War, you might want to brush up on your knowledge of this event by visiting the Library of Congress Civil War collection, which includes more than a thousand photographs.

Sunday, April 1, 2018

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IT SHOULD BE A HOLIDAY

My lovely daughter Linda Gail ‘Belew’ LaZar was born in the year of 1959. On April 17, 2018, she will celebrate her 59th birthday at her home in Eugene, Oregon. Born in ’59 – age 59.

Happy Birthday Linda!

We LOVE you
Dad

Tuesday, March 20, 2018

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EASTER and APRIL FOOL'S DAY

April 1, 2018

For the first time since 1956, Easter Sunday falls on April 1 - or April Fool's Day. Since 1900, Easter has fallen on April Fool's Day only four times - 1923, 1934, 1945 and 1956. It won't happen again until 2029.

April 1, 1945, we celebrated Easter by invading the island of Okinawa. That was the last island my First Marine Division invaded while fighting the Japanese. I also celebrated my 20th birthday after almost 3 years in World War II.
 
The time when Christians around the world celebrate the resurrection of Christ, Easter falls on the first Sunday after the first full moon occurring on or after the spring equinox. The spring equinox occurs on March 20 this year.
Easter generally falls between March 22 and April 25 each year.

In addition to religious services, Easter is also celebrated with egg hunts, family gatherings and visits from the Easter Bunny, who leaves treats in children's Easter baskets.

The Easter/April Fool's combo isn't the only joint commemoration this year. In February, Valentine's Day fell on Ash Wednesday.

Origins of Easter

While the Bible does not mention "Easter," it's believed the name comes from early celebrations of the pre-Christian goddess Eostre, who was typically celebrated at the beginning of Spring. Eostre's name remained as early Christians marked the time of Jesus' resurrection and the title survived through history, though it was changed to "Easter" by English speakers.

The Easter season coincides with Passover, one of the most important festivals on the Jewish calendar. In 2018, Passover will begin on the evening of Friday, March 30 and ends in the evening of Saturday, April 7. Passover commemorates the liberation of the Jewish people from slavery in Egypt.

Monday, March 12, 2018

St. Patrick’s Day will arrive, and once again many of my friends in the United States are getting ready for the day’s celebrations. One friend is currently in Savannah, home of the second largest St. Patrick’s Day event in the country. Friends are getting their green shirts ready for the day – for people growing up in certain parts of the United States, a failure to wear green on St. Patrick’s Day may result in you getting pinched!

While living in Dublin I was pretty surprised to find out that St. Patrick’s Day is nowhere near as big in Ireland as it tends to be in the United States, especially since the holiday originated in Ireland. This got me wondering why, so I did a little research.

In Ireland, St. Patrick’s Day is a celebration of St. Patrick, and therefore a religious holiday. St. Patrick was the patron saint of Ireland, who lived in Ireland in the late 4th and early 5th centuries. He wasn’t Irish; in fact, he was a Romano-Briton who was captured by Irish raiders and taken to Ireland as a slave. In Ireland, St. Patrick was traditionally celebrated for the missionary work he performed in Ireland and is credited with bringing Christianity to the country; the holiday is therefore a religious holiday, similar to Christmas and Easter – it’s not a celebration of Ireland like it is in the United States. These days you can find St. Patrick’s Day parades, shamrocks, and free-flowing Guinness in Ireland, but it’s mostly there because the tourists wanted it there. If not for them, it would likely have remained a day of solemnity; in fact, up until 1970 Irish laws mandated that pubs be closed on St. Patrick’s Day.

So why did St. Patrick’s Day come to be such a huge deal in the United States? To Americans, especially those 36.5 million with Irish heritage, it represents something quite different than it does to the Irish living in Ireland. When close to a million poor Irish Catholics immigrated to the United States during the Great Potato Famine in the mid-1800s, they were despised for their religious beliefs and had a hard time finding even menial jobs. The first St. Patrick’s Day celebrations in the United States were met with contempt. When the Irish began to realize that their great numbers gave them political power, they started to organize themselves into a force. Annual St. Patrick’s Day parades, that started not in Ireland but in New York City in March of 1762, were a demonstration of strength and solidarity among a people who, at that time, were for the most part unwelcome in protestant America.

So to Irish Americans and those claiming Irish American descent, a population that currently stands at about nine times the population of Ireland itself, St. Patrick’s Day means much more than the celebration of a religious figure – it’s a day that came to represent the strength and pride of the Irish people in a foreign land. And as such it has a very important meaning here – tens of millions of Americans are both proud to be American, and proud to be of Irish ancestry. On March 17th comes their chance to celebrate as such.