Tag Archives: civil war

New book! Now published

Click here for “The Second Husband,” a historical fiction by Cheryl Petersen, in kindle or book format, at Amazon


Remembering Why We have Memorial Day

A little research helps remember what it is we are suppose to be remembering on Memorial Day, which was originally called Decoration Day and was a day of remembrance for those who died in the Civil War (I didn’t know that). General John Logan proclaimed the first Memorial Day which was observed May 30, 1868. Flowers were placed on the graves of Union and Confederate soldiers at Arlington National Cemetery. The first state to officially recognize the holiday was New York in 1873, followed by other northern states later.

Get this, the southern states refused to acknowledge Memorial Day until after World War I, when the intent for the holiday changed from honoring those who died fighting in the Civil War to honoring Americans who died fighting in any war. Sounds fair.

It wasn’t until 1971, until Congress made Memorial Day a federal holiday.

Many Americans observe Memorial Day by visiting cemeteries or joining in on parades. My husband and I attended a service years ago, in which our foster child at the time participated as a Young Marine. The Kennewick Young Marines poignantly commemorated the people who sacrifice their lives for future freedom.

On other Memorial Day’s, I have either worked or played. However, at some point during the year, I can’t help but sit back and remember the intentional or unintentional death of people who have died for advancement of freedom, peace, justice, or spiritual growth.

The anomaly of dying for life can soften the blow of death but it also can confuse the mind, which in turn may miss the point of Memorial Day. It is much more effective to remember thankfully the purpose of the death, rather than reverence the dead. Commemorating unselfishness leads to living out what was fought for, whereas recalling the dead leads to, well, the living dead.

From 21st Century Science and Health:

“The true sense is spiritually lost, if the sacrament is confined to the use of bread and wine. The disciples had eaten, yet Jesus prayed and gave them bread. This would have been ridiculous in a literal sense; but in its spiritual signification, it was natural and beautiful. Jesus prayed; he retreated from the mortal human perspectives and refreshed his heart with brighter, spiritual views…If everyone who ate bread and drank of Jesus’ cup really commemorated his sufferings, they would have revolutionized the world.”


Mother’s Everywhere

Mother’s Day is peeking around the corner and I have a happy conundrum to meet. Since the passing of my mother, nay more, even before, woman around the world have embraced me in motherhood. I would have to buy out the local flower shops to send all these beautiful women flowers on Sunday May 8th. Ironically, Anna M. Jarvis, who, in 1908, began campaigning for an official Mother’s Day, which was declared by President Woodrow Wilson in 1914, was irked at the commercialization of flowers on Mother’s Day. The original intent of Mother’s Day was peace and memorial. Maybe a white, red, or pink carnation can be shared, but the flower industry that appeared to be exploiting Mother’s Day was the nemesis of Anna Jarvis.

Although motherhood has been acknowledged religiously for centuries, it was the promotion of peace that instigated an official holiday. Decades before Anna Jarvis, came Julia Ward Howe, who penned a Mother’s Day proclamation in 1870 after cringing at the horrors of the American Civil War. Julia Ward Howe wrote:

Arise, then, women of this day!
Arise all women who have hearts,
Whether your baptism be that of water or of tears
Say firmly:
“We will not have great questions decided by irrelevant agencies,
Our husbands shall not come to us reeking of carnage,
For caresses and applause.
Our sons shall not be taken from us to unlearn
All that we have been able to teach them of
charity, mercy and patience.

Life seems to be full of learning, unlearning, and re-learning. Motherhood plays a powerful role in this exercise. I’ve learned from my mother, unlearned what I was taught when I was off on my own, and re-learned from my own daughters about deep-rooted issued of life, truth, and love. With motherhood being so all pervasive, so unattached to time and age, I can’t doubt a higher source of Mother, God.

Not eating too much on Thanksgiving Day

The other day, friend Marie asked me what I was doing for Thanksgiving.

I gave her a blank look.

I have no plans.

About 20 years ago, I shifted my approach to the holidays from strategic planning and defined expectations, to more spontaneity.

It’s paid off. The Holidays turn out better than I could have designed myself. And, stress doesn’t even bother inviting itself anymore.

Well, to be honest, the first few years of spontaneity were touch and go. I pee-oed a few family members when I chose not always to participate in the “traditional” festivities, but common sense won out and I wasn’t excommunicated from the family.

Thanksgiving celebrations span cultures, continents, and millennia. Ancient Greeks, Romans, Jews, and Native Americans (before the English arrived) paid tribute to God, or the gods, after harvest. In 1621, the Plymouth Colonists and Wampanoag Indians shared an autumn harvest feast. Later in history, first President George Washington gave a Thanksgiving Proclamation, expressing gratitude for independence and ratification of the U.S. Constitution. Then, in the next century, in the midst of the U.S. civil war, President Abraham Lincoln entreated Americans to ask God to “heal the wounds of the nation” and declared Thanksgiving a national holiday.

Yes, there are people like me who faithfully attend Thanksgiving church services, however, to stereotype Thanksgiving Day as a religious breakthrough misses the point (unless Thanksgiving signifies eating turkey religiously).

Mass consciousness is being penetrated with the fact that appreciation, thankfulness, and gratitude can be experienced every day. If setting aside a day of thanks is the necessary step to being appreciative every day, so be it. But remember, it helps not to stereotype Thanksgiving. It helps not to do things we ultimately will feel dissatisfied about. So, let’s be thankful, for the right to know when to stop eating, when to exercise, how to volunteer our compassion, how to reduce our consumption, how to secure security, and how to touch the spirit of others with love.

Gratitude is powerful. Being thankful for friends, a home, and care coincides with wonder and joy. And, I admit, I find there is something greater attracting my attention, that is Life, Truth, Love, God. Thank you.


%d bloggers like this: