Yardley mayor Chris Harding realized the importance of the Memorial Day holiday last year when he saw an unusual sight on his way home from work one day.
It was a man walking along the road in Bucks County with an American flag draped across his shoulders being escorted by a motorcycle. “He looked out of place.”
This prompted Harding to talk to the man and find out why he was walking. He found out the man was with an organization called Carry the Load.
“I went home and told my wife about what I saw. We grabbed water for the guy and headed back.”
That’s when they saw the tour bus and could realize the impact of the event.
Founded by Former Navy SEAL Clint Bruce, Carry the Load is committed to restoring the true meaning of Memorial Day. Their signature event is the Memorial May National Relay which is a 2,000-mile walk that spans from New York to Texas and the trek is symbolic of the burden our nation's heroes carried for us.
This year one of the legs of the journey will be in Yardley, Pennsylvania. Harding, now Mayor of Yardley Borough always remembered the walker he encountered and stayed in contact with Carry the Load. On May 1st the community is coming together for a ceremony to take place at the Veteran’s Monument on Delaware Avenue to greet the relay tour bus and hear from members of the organization.
Why are shore trips and barbecues the images that come to mind when you think of Memorial Day though? It may have something to do with a date change.
The Museum Programs Director at the Constitution Center, Jenna Winterle says the holiday used to be celebrated on May 30th because that was when all the flowers were finally in bloom. Originally called Decoration Day, people would come together to decorate their communities as a way to remember sons, fathers, friends and neighbors who died in the service.
Now though the holiday is celebrated nationally on the last Monday in May which means a three-day weekend for many Americans.
Winterle says the real purpose of the holiday is “to make sure our nation’s history is not forgotten and so that memories can live on.”
The Constitution Center has programs to celebrate Memorial Day history from May 24-26. The museum will be offering arts and crafts activities for children, flag etiquette workshops and a main exhibition on the nation’s memorials as well as Memorial Day lesson plans for teachers.
You may want to keep the holiday’s original message in mind over the next three weeks before you firm up your Memorial Day Plans.