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The colors of Memorial Day

May 30, 2012 - By Carolyn B. Tyler

Amid the sentiment, memories of a long debate

Memorial Day traditionally is awash with color as the graves of loved ones are marked with flowers and mementoes.

But as I looked across Mountain View Cemetery this week, the most stately were the colors of red, white, and blue as nearly 1,500 flags marked the graves of veterans "at home" just west of the city. Every year there are more.

Late husband-Bob's gravesite had one of the flags lovingly placed by volunteers before Linda and I reached the cemetery Saturday morning.

We put mums on Mom and Dad's gravestone and on Bob's adjacent.

But this year was special in what we were able to take to the cemetery. Bob's peonies were in bloom, and we were able to take a vase of them to the site.

It's been nearly nine years since Bob died, and he was unable to tend the flowers for a year before that, so for a decade the peonies which he cared for so tenderly over the years have been on their own.

Annually they have bloomed, and I've enjoyed bouquets here in the house. But this year, for the first time ever, with our early spring development, the peonies were in bloom in time for Memorial Day.

It was very satisfying to be able to take them to his final resting place.

As with all couples married for 43 years, Bob and I had our occasional disagreements. Usual, petty stuff that one forgets over the years.

But one of our biggest arguments over the years always centered on Memorial Day.

The argument predated the "last Monday on May" holiday designation in 1968 as Memorial Day and went back to the time when Memorial Day was traditionally observed on May 30, no matter what the day of the week.

The argument?

I held that "Decoration Day" was the original name of the day set aside to honor war dead and was changed to "Memorial Day" in 1967 (after we had been married nearly seven years.)

Bob disagreed. He held out that they were two different days -- that "Decoration Day" was the Sunday preceding Memorial Day.

He cited childhood memories of going to the cemeteries with his family on the Sunday preceding May 30, and decorating the graves of veterans and other loved ones. I contended that is was common practice to decorate the graves on Sunday, just because people didn't have time off on the other days of the week.

I cited the "Uniform Monday Holiday Act" but I never won the argument.

I was right.

I just never won the argument.

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