One May At A Time: An Efflorescence of Vocabulary: Memorial Day Words: May 30

Memorial Day, or Decoration Day as it was originally called in the localities in which it was celebrated, began as an occasion for decorating the graves of soldiers who had died fighting in the U.S. Civil war. Declared a national holiday in 1966, it is traditionally observed by decorating fallen soldiers' graves, honoring them with parades, speeches, and concerts, and gathering for picnics and family gatherings.

Celebrate Memorial Day with these words that help promote an understanding of the holiday's meaning. Then look for more meaning in the day by learning vocabulary from Lincoln's Gettysburg Address, and recite the famous memorial oration on this solemn day.
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Full list of words from this list:

  1. martial
    suggesting war or military life
    Here were idle warriors smoking and laughing in groups, or beguiling the lazy hours with gambling, feasting, or doubtful stories of their own martial exploits.Parkman, Francis
  2. respect
    regard highly; think much of
    Brindisi residents have been paying their respects by leaving flowers at the site of the bombing.
  3. observe
    behave as expected during of holidays or rites
    Twenty million Britons watched on just over two million TV receivers But where observing state occasions is concerned, how much has changed, really?
  4. picnic
    a day devoted to an outdoor social gathering
    It is a lovely flowered place in a windless hollow shaded by towering Norfolk pines where Napoleon liked to go to picnic.New York Times (Mar 30, 2012)
  5. barbecue
    a cookout in which food is cooked over an open fire
    Fremont Brewing Company hosts a free barbecue, Noon-3 p.m.Seattle Times (May 10, 2012)
  6. memorial
    a structure erected to commemorate persons or events
    Before Lin, war memorials almost always featured statues of soldiers.Slate (May 3, 2012)
  7. service
    employment in or work for another
    He made five albums in four years, all focused on his training and service as an infantryman.Seattle Times (May 15, 2012)
  8. holiday
    a day on which work is suspended by law or custom
    Trading was muted, as many investors celebrated a holiday commemorating the end of World War II fighting in Europe.New York Times (May 8, 2012)
  9. patriotism
    love of country and willingness to sacrifice for it
    True patriotism doesn't go about waving the flag and shouting.Hopkins, William John
  10. patriot
    one who loves and defends his or her country
    Urging moms to boycott Mother’s Day is kind of like asking patriots to burn the flag.
  11. parade
    a ceremonial procession including people marching
    The Marching 100 has had a rich history, performing at Super Bowls and in inauguration parades.Seattle Times (May 14, 2012)
  12. Old Glory
    the national flag of the United States of America
    I love my native land and its beautiful flag— Old Glory!Standish, Burt L.
  13. Stars and Stripes
    the national flag of the United States of America
    Two days later the lookout reported a sail, and as the ships drew together, the newcomer was seen to be flying the Stars and Stripes.Lyman, William Denison
  14. flag
    a rectangular piece of cloth of distinctive design
    Bunting, flags and more crowds turned out in Modbury as the torch convoy passed through.
  15. wreath
    a circular band of flowers or other foliage
    “Right, Coz,” agreed Ned, deliberately sitting down with a wreath of greens about his neck.Penrose, Margaret
  16. sacrifice
    a loss entailed by giving up something
    Taught men to sacrifice reputation, and do good in secret, 186.Lecky, William Edward Hartpole
  17. decoration
    the act of adorning something
    Charles Ives's symphonic poem Decoration Day depicted the holiday as he experienced it in his childhood, with his father's band leading the way to the town cemetery, the playing of "Taps" on a trumpet, and a livelier march tune on the way back to the town.
    —Wikipedia," Memorial Day"
    Early observances of Memorial Day centered around the decoration of graves of fallen soldiers, with the often locally-observed day known as "Decoration Day."
  18. commemorate
    call to remembrance
    No visit is complete without pausing at the memorial plaza, commemorating heroes of the Cuban independence struggle in bronze.BBC (May 19, 2014)
  19. cemetery
    a tract of land used for burials
    Arlington National Cemetery announced Friday that it will rename its 19th century “Old Amphitheater” for Civil War double amputee and veterans advocate James R. Tanner.Washington Post
  20. volunteer
    a person who performs work done by choice
    On Memorial Day, volunteers come forward to decorate graves in national cemeteries throughout the country.
  21. continuously
    at every point
    Ironton, Ohio, lays claim to the nation's oldest continuously running Memorial Day parade.
    —Wikipedia," Memorial Day"
  22. bunting
    a seed-eating songbird of Europe or North America
    Amid the bunting on the main square, organizers posted images of 60 men and women who died in the uprising.New York Times (Feb 17, 2014)
  23. half-staff
    a position some distance below the top of a mast to which a flag is lowered in mourning or to signal distress
    Both the United States and Maryland flags are being flown at half-staff on Thursday.Washington Times (May 15, 2014)
  24. sacrifice
    a loss entailed by giving up something
    “You know, it just reminds you of the sacrifices that people made for a larger cause.”Washington Post
  25. concert
    a performance of music by players or singers
    The National Memorial Day Concert takes place on the west lawn of the United States Capitol.
    —Wikipedia," Memorial Day"
  26. oration
    an instance of formal speaking
    It chanced that as he ended his oration, a steamer fired a salute from a twelve pounder gun.Various
  27. tradition
    a specific practice of long standing
    These threats imperil our constitutional traditions, our heritage of rule of law and the strength of our democracy.Washington Post
Created on May 21, 2012 (updated May 20, 2014)

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