Susan Spess Shay

Still playing make believe.

Association for the Beautification of the Graves of the Glorious Dead


Mierlo War Cemetery, Mierlo, The Netherlands -...

As far as I know, there aren’t any songs pertaining to it. And I can’t think of one movie that’s built around it. But this is the Memorial Day Weekend.

You can tell it’s the beginning of summer holiday weekend, can’t you? The weather’s warm–at least here in Okie Land–people are crowding the grocery stores in preparation for get-togethers, getting their boats ready to take off for the lake and it seems everyone is busy getting ready to play.

Even here on the blog, only three sluts posted this week, and that’s if you count me. 🙂

Most of us work, work, work and hurry, hurry, hurry, just to get ready for this holiday weekend. And that’s just a little bit strange when I think about it.

It’s not as if we’re going Europe or Hawaii for the celebration. So why do we do it? Why do we stop our lives and neglect whatever we can that won’t cause us too much trouble, so we can get ready? Especially when we know there’ll be just that much more to do when we get back to normal?

To be honest when I was a kid (yep, gonna show my age here) Memorial Day–we called it Decoration Day–passed and hardly caused a bump in the road.

I remember going to a country cemetery that didn’t have perpetual care to clean up around our relatives’ graves, but I don’t remember a big hoopla happening over the weekend.

Memorial Day became the last Monday in May in 1971. Before that, Decoration Day was on May 30th, and I’m not sure if people got a day off from work or not.

A little history: Did you know that Decoration Day started in the South just after the Civil War? Of course, it makes sense. Often people in the south had family cemeteries, that were not far from the house. Even if their loved ones had died on a battlefield far away and were buried there, they put up a memorial tombstone for them in the family plot.

And those who lived in cities, who didn’t have private cemeteries, wanted their war heroes’ graves cared for.

Think about Gone with the Wind, toward the end of the movie.

*Do not tell me you’ve never watched GWTW. It’s a wonderful movie! Maybe not a “romance,” per se, but it has a uber great hero–Rhett–and a bigger-than-life KA heroine–Scarlett!*

Okay, those of you who’ve watched GWTW (the rest of you–get it! Watch it!) remember the discussion between Dolly Merriwether and the doctor’s wife about how great Rhett was? Dolly talks about him giving a lot of money to the Association for the Beautification of the Graves of the Glorious Dead.

That was Decoration or Memorial Day. The point to the holiday was to have a day to decorate the graves of war dead. Now we hurry to decorate the graves (if we believe in that sort of thing, and yes, my family does) so we’ll have the rest of the weekend to do whatever.

Since 1971, when we started planning to have that three day weekend, family dynamics have changed. Most have two working parents in the household or a single parent that has to work.

Having an extra day and a chance to spend quality time together is a great reason to work, work, work and hurry, hurry, hurry.

It’s a time to make happy memories, and spend time laughing and playing. We can teach our children to swim or fish or ski and that Mom or Dad isn’t just about work.

BTW: If you have a few moments this weekend, drive through a cemetery even if you aren’t decorating. It’s beautiful. The stones with all those flowers sitting on them look like a church full of ladies, wearing their Easter bonnets.

Oh, wait. I’m showing my age again. 🙂

Two questions for you–

  1. How are you spending your Memorial Day weekend?
  2. Do you or don’t you decorate?
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Author: Susan Shay

For as long as I can remember, I've loved two things--reading and people--and that led me to become a writer. Many of my stories are set in Small Town Worlds. I'm a wife, mother, sibling and an aunt. I have a deep faith in God, and an exciting life in Christ. Maybe I shouldn't be (after all, he's God!) but I'm constantly amazed at the things He's up to. :)

6 thoughts on “Association for the Beautification of the Graves of the Glorious Dead

  1. I’m spending Saturday going to the National Cemetery to decorate my mother’s and grandparent’s graves. Sunday is church then I don’t know what, and Monday may go for a bike ride early (before it gets scorching hot or storms roll through).
    What are YOU doing this weekend? 🙂

    • Let’s see. Deb and I decorated graves yesterday here in C-Town.
      Today I’m smoking ribs and pork chops, making baked beans and cole slaw and green herb dip. Then we’re invited to 2 graduation parties, and I’m taking Barefoot Contessa’s potato salad to one.
      Tomorrow is church, then Deb and I are going to the Ford to decorate graves of relatives there. Oh, and I’m gonna get a flag for Granddad Reeves’s grave. VFW used to put flags on them, but I didn’t see any this year.
      Monday I’m taking Miss Molly to T-Town for a new ‘do and I”m hoping to go to Southwood Nursery to spend my Mother’s Day gifts. (I have one in Sand Springs I’m going to try to spend sometime this weekend, too.)
      Then if I have any extra time, I’ll work in the garden, or write, depending what time it is.
      That should get me started. 🙂

  2. I have decorated lots of graves in Mannford and five graves at Dixie-Bearcreek in Cleveland. I enjoy doing it every year, the cemeteries are so beautiful and I always see and talk to old friends or make new ones. My family never really plans for this holiday weekend, but we usually wind up at daughter Lorri’s house for a swim party. Happy Holiday Susan, I will always remember Mary Sue, Aunt Ruby, Phyllis, Anna Beth and Lydia Marie. They will always live in my heart and memories!!

  3. Dolly Merriweather not only had a fantastic line, she turned it out with finesse, almost like poetry. The aSOS-e-Ation for the BEE-OO-ifiCAtion of the GRAVES of the GLORIOUS DEAD…..magic!

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