Eventually, Tom continued, the name of the holiday changed as well as the date, which was switched about 30 or 40 years ago* from the fixed date of May 30 to the last Monday in May in order to give us a three-day weekend.
By then, according to Tom, the original intent of the holiday had likewise evolved into a more inclusive commemoration. “This used to be a day commemorating those who died in the Civil War,” he said, “but nowadays Memorial Day has become a day to remember not only members of the American military who’ve died in wars, but all veterans, living and dead, as well as anyone, veteran or not, who’s died that we wish to memorialize.”
Then Tom added, “But I think the real purpose of Memorial Day should be to recall all the Americans who’ve died in wars. If once a year we as a nation looked at the number of American lives lost in wars it might serve as a cautionary against rushing into future wars.”
And I thought, well, that would be good, and maybe it might. In a different world.
For what it's worth, I looked up the number of American service members who have died in all the wars, good and bad, that we've fought in the past 241 years since the birth of our country.
Over 1.1 million Americans have died in wars. Over 500,000 of these died during The Civil War. Of those 500,000, most died from disease and infections.
* I looked it up: Memorial day was switched from May 30 to the last Monday in May in1971.
Happy Memorial Day.