Brute’s Bleat: May 21, 2014


Memorial Day has been celebrated in Maple Lake for as long as I have been living here with a program in the city park, and it will be again on May 26th. This year’s 10:00 a.m. program will include a Memorial Day talk by Bruce Bartels and acknowledgements by the Maple Lake Boy and Girl Staters. The Maple High School Marching Band will provide music. The Scouts will post flags as the list of names is read and the Color Guard will salute the dead with a three-shot volley and Taps will be played.
That all may sound familiar to those who have attended Maple Lake’s American Legion Club Memorial Day, but there is a change this year as was reported in last week’s Messenger.  American Legion Post 131 decided to go back to the original observance of Memorial Day which is to acknowledge those veterans who died in the service of their country. Consequently their names and the names of the local veterans who have died since last year’s Memorial Day program are the only names that will be read at this year’s program, rather than the long list of names of servicemen and women as has been the custom.  
I did a little research on the history of Memorial Day and I’m including some of it in this week’s column to help people understand how Memorial Day came about and the original intentions for the observance. 
“Memorial Day, originally called Decoration Day, is a day of remembrance for those who have died in service of the United States of America. Over two dozen cities and towns claim to be the birthplace of Memorial Day. While Waterloo, N.Y. was officially declared the birthplace of Memorial Day by President Lyndon Johnson in May 1966, it’s difficult to prove conclusively the origins of the day.
Regardless of the exact date or location of its origins, one thing is clear – Memorial Day was borne out of the Civil War and a desire to honor our dead. It was officially proclaimed on 5 May, 1868 by General John Logan, national commander of the Grand Army of the Republic, in his General Order No. 11. ‘The 30th of May, 1868, is designated for the purpose of strewing with flowers, or otherwise decorating the graves of comrades who died in defense of their country during the late rebellion, and whose bodies now lie in almost every city, village and hamlet churchyard in the land,’ he proclaimed. The date of Decoration Day, as he called it, was chosen because it wasn’t the anniversary of any particular battle.
On the first Decoration Day, General James Garfield made a speech at Arlington National Cemetery, and 5,000 participants decorated the graves of the 20,000 Union and Confederate soldiers buried there.
The first state to officially recognize the holiday was New York in 1873. By 1890 it was recognized by all of the northern states. The South refused to acknowledge the day, honoring their dead on separate days until after World War I (when the holiday changed from honoring just those who died fighting in the Civil War to honoring Americans who died fighting in any war).
It is now celebrated in almost every state on the last Monday in May with Congressional passage of the National Holiday Act of 1971 (P.L. 90 – 363). This helped ensure a three-day weekend for federal holidays, though several southern states have an additional separate day for honoring the Confederate war dead: January 19th in Texas; April 26th in Alabama, Florida, Georgia, and Mississippi; May 10th in South Carolina; and June 3rd (Jefferson Davis’ birthday) in Louisiana and Tennessee.”
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I probably should have gone fishing over the weekend, but opted to mow the lawn, work on the to-do list and watch the Lakers in a come-from-behind 4-3 win over Cold Spring Sunday afternoon in the local park. The Springers out-hit the Lakers, but timely hits by outfielders Todd Fuller and Brian Russell in the 8th made the difference.  Mitch Wurm started pitching for the Lakers and was relieved by Ben Jungers. Fans have three 7:30 p.m. home games coming up – May 21 with Mound; Friday with Rockford; and Wednesday with Cokato. 
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Crappies seem to be the fish of choice for local anglers with Cedar Lake one of the hot spots.  This week’s warm weather should help with the walleye and northern bite and it can’t come soon enough for me. I’m making my annual trek to the Northwest Angle May 31, and from the sound of things, Lake of the Woods will be open. The temperature at the Angle was 52 degrees Monday morning. Even at that I think packing an extra pair of long johns might make fishing more comfortable.