May 28, 1989 – Today is Memorial Day. And even though you are no doubt firing up the grill, laying out the picnic table, opening your first beer of the day, it’s not really a day about celebrating, and it never was. It’s a day about remembering, giving thanks by way of silently recalling a loved one who didn’t come home or quietly reflecting the enormity of it all while watching American flags over grave sites, as far as the eye can see – at the VA or at Arlington. And it’s not the same as Veteran’s Day or Armed Forces Day, although it is somewhat confusing to have so many days dedicated to observing those who fell, those who served and those who continue to serve.
And it’s come a long way since that first Memorial Day in 1861. Some 157 years later, and we still haven’t figured out a way to settle our differences or to thwart the will of those bent on some make-believe manifest from plunging nations and the world into fields of death and mayhem. We haven’t progressed much, and almost every decade since that first Memorial Day there have been wars and conflict and an endless stream of flag-draped coffins – the overwhelming anonymous presence concealing all the hopes and dreams of those who never got a chance to play it all out.
So maybe it is a case of “hoisting a few out of remembrance” or quietly contemplating if we’ll ever learn – whatever it is, it’s a day to reflect and be reminded that life is precious and war is not.
As part of this broadcast of Newsmark from CBS Radio for this day in 1989, there are stories of the goings on at Arlington National Cemetery as well as stories of homeless women as well as the political ordeal of House Speaker Jim Wright, embroiled in his own controversy. All in a day in 1989.