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Memorial Day, poppies, parades and new cars

By Dian Vujovich

When it comes to memories relating to Memorial Day, clearly a day for remembering, three things come to mind: First, when I was a kid it was always celebrated on the last day of May. Second, the town always had a parade. Third, vets from the local VFW sold poppies all over town— mainly in front of the grocery and drug stores. Today, pretty much none of that happens.

Let’s take it from the top and begin with the day of celebration.

It was on May 30, 1868 when the first Decoration Day, now called Memorial Day, began. The idea behind it was to decorate graves with flowers, and wreaths and flags to remember the hundreds of thousands who died in the Civil War.

Then somewhere within the next 100 years, wars still happened and tens of thousands of service people still lost their lives, but three-day holiday weekends became more important to those in power that the remembrance of important historical celebration dates. So, out went the original sacred dates and in came along federally recognized holiday weekends and in 1971 Congress passed the Uniform Monday Holiday Act. This Act meant Memorial Day was no longer to be celebrated on the last day of May but on the last Monday in May.

The change also represented an American value change as it shifted any focused attention from acknowledging the soldiers who gave their lives in war to the hap hap happier one: that of celebrating the beginning of summer.

Given the change in attitude and values, it should come as no surprise then that finding a Memorial Day Parade is next to impossible to do these days.

Palm Beach hasn’t had a Memorial Day parade for I don’t know how long exactly, but certainly decades for sure. West Palm Beach used to have one, but not this year, according to the WPB Police department. Nope, you’ll have to head out to Wellington to find a parade. Cities like South Palm Beach, Lantana, Lake Worth and Boca, to name a few, are having Memorial Day Celebrations of one sort or another but parades seem to be kaput.

The same is true for poppies. Since 1922, vets have distributed imitations of those lovely red flowering plants referred to as Buddy Poppies because their color represents the color of blood, hence, fallen soldiers. Today they are sold for about $1 each. Best place to buy them is your local VFW.

With Memorial Day kicking off summer, and parades and poppies honoring our fallen soldiers out of fashion, what’s the market say is the best an American can do over this three-day weekend? Buy a car.

Deals abound this year with finance rates low for those with good credit scores. Heck, TV ads say you can pick up a new Lexus for 300 bucks a month, and a Mercedes for 350. Can’t beat those monthly payments.

But if you’re going to do that, at least do a little honoring of what Memorial Day is really meant to represent and get a red one.

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