Kaid Benfield is the director of the Sustainable Communities and Smart Growth program at the Natural Resources Defense Council, co-founder of the LEED for Neighborhood Development rating system, and co-founder of Smart Growth America.
Scenes from around America.
What does Memorial Day mean to us as Americans? The opening of the summer season?The beach? Finally, a three-day weekend? A barbecue with friends? A parade? A family gathering or block party? Deep discounts on shopping? All of the above?
Or is Memorial Day about the remembrance of those who lost their lives in military service?
Memorial Day, originally called Decoration Day, is a day of remembrance for those who have died in our nation's service ... While Waterloo N.Y. was officially declared the birthplace of Memorial Day by President Lyndon Johnson in May 1966, it's difficult to prove conclusively the origins of the day. It is more likely that it had many separate beginnings; each of those towns and every planned or spontaneous gathering of people to honor the war dead in the 1860's tapped into the general human need to honor our dead, each contributed honorably to the growing movement that culminated in Gen Logan giving his official proclamation in 1868. It is not important who was the very first, what is important is that Memorial Day was established. Memorial Day is not about division. It is about reconciliation; it is about coming together to honor those who gave their all.
This post originally appeared on the NRDC's Switchboard blog.