Most Americans equate Memorial Day to nothing more than paid time off from work, a holiday for hanging with friends, cookouts, or leisurely pleasure.  When in reality it should be far more than that if you dig deep into its origins.

Memorial Day was once called Decoration Day and began in the late 1800s shortly after the Civil War ended.  It wasn’t until after the Civil War that the government made an effort to give fallen soldiers a decent burial, but it was only Union forces who were given that ceremony at first.  The Confederate fallen were pretty much ignored by the North and it drew outrage from Southern citizens.  It was a band of Southern ladies who organized and began spanning out to recover the remains of soldiers slain in battle.  Every effort was made to identify the dead, and they were moved to a cemetery for an honorary burial.

During the Civil War, many of the fallen were found just laying on the ground where they fell – nothing more than a desecrated skeleton.  At times, fellow soldiers would bury their friends under a tree, by the roadside, a creek, or convenient field.  Often, there wasn’t a headstone to commemorate that poor soul who gave it all.  If the stench of rotting bodies became too much to bear it wasn’t unusual that a large trench was dug, and a mass grave was lined with numerous fallen soldiers to alleviate the problem of unsanitary conditions.

Every year, during the Memorial Day weekend, my mother asks to be taken to the cemetery where her loved ones are laid to rest.  It’s a tradition with her, and my wife and I, to decorate the graves of our relatives who have passed away.  We decorate their graves with fresh flowers, remove anything that’s deteriorated, and stand to reflect for a while in front of those granite markers that are a brief chronicle of their life.  It’s a tribute of respect for them and their memory that I’m quite proud of.  For you see, Memorial Day should be something more than a party in the backyard.

On the way home from paying our respects to the fallen this past Memorial Day, we drove through Lafayette, Indiana.  When we came to a stop at a traffic light, I noticed an elderly man standing erect on the side of the road surrounded by dozens of American flags.  I could see he wore an American Legion cap, and I instantly knew what he was doing.  Behind him, in the parking lot of a shopping mall, was a tent of volunteers collecting money for a charitable cause the Marines were sponsoring that day.  It was obvious to me the man was standing guard, as Marines do, being a watchman for us all.

In recognition of what that elderly man was doing, and the service he no doubt lent to ensure our freedom, I honked our vehicle’s horn – he, in turn, saluted us.  I got quite emotional after that, and the feeling didn’t subside soon.  Later, my wife ironically pointed out that of the dozens of cars parked at that traffic light ours was the only one that honked in tribute.

To be quite frank, I’m angered by the lack of concern the liberal establishment has for those brave souls willing to sacrifice their lives that we may be free and not in harm’s way.

Yet, another scandal has reared its ugly head concerning the Obama administration and this time it’s interwoven in the VA.  Veterans are having to endure long waits for medical treatment; it’s rationing and there’s no denying that.  The scandal is embroiled in secret lists, quotas, and other nonsense that only an insidious government bureaucracy could dream of.  It’s been reported that Veterans have died waiting to get simple treatment that one could easily get at any private hospital.

The “Insidiousness” of it is it’s intentionally an entrapment and beguiling.  It’s stealthy treachery and deceit.  To operate or proceed inconspicuously, but with grave effect is the true definition of the word.

It was bureaucrats in the VA who were composing secret lists, gaming the system, and all at the expense of those who sacrificed everything for our country.

Many are now comparing the government run VA system to what Obamacare will be when implemented.

I wonder and lament over the possibilities.

Greg Allen’s column, Thinkin’ Out Loud, was published bi-monthly from 2009 to 2017.  He’s an author, a former nationally syndicated columnist and the founder of Builder of the Spirit Ministries in Jamestown, Indiana.  He can be reached at

© Greg Allen ~ All Rights Reserved