Monday, May 25, 2009

History of Memorial Day

Memorial Day was first celebrated in 1868 and was then known as "Decoration Day." It was a day to honor the then recently fallen Civil War soldiers by decorating their graves.

It was originally observed on May 30, 1868 by proclamation of a General John A. Logan. At the very first Decoration Day celebration, General James Garfield made a speech at Arlington National Cemetery and over 5,000 people helped decorate the graves of more than 20,000 confederate and union soldiers.

By the late 1800s, the day had come to be known as Memorial Day. Following World War I, the celebration expanded to memorialize those who had died in all of the Nation's wars.

In 1971, Congress declared Memorial Day a national holiday to be celebrated the last Monday in May.

Today, Memorial Day is celebrated across the country to honor those who has served in our Nation's armed forces as well as all others who were near and dear to us.

What is ironic to me though the fact that 141 years after the 1st celebration and speech at Arlington National Cemetery, our new President Barack Hussein Obama, the nation's 1st black president delivered the speech today at the annual event. The irony to me comes from the fact that the Civil War was fought over the enslavement of blacks and that most of those buried there that fought in that war, died over the issue.

This is just a testimony of how far we have come as a Nation.

Memorial Day Tribute

JEWEL ALPHONSO BURNEY October 2, 1928-February 13, 1973

Korean War Veteran

In honor of Memorial Day, I would like to salute my father, Jewel Alphonso Burney who served in the United States Army during the Korean War. My father was born and raised in the Collinsburg area of Louisiana. He was the son of William and Bessie Hines Burney. He was one of 5 of their children but also had 3 other siblings.

He was very bright as a young child. Many tell stories of how he was an early reader and how he taught younger siblings to read as well. He also had an early interest in "tinkering" with electronic gadgets, fixing and putting things together.

He was educated at Egypt Hill School which doubled as a santuary on Sunday which was pastored by his grandfather, Reverend Anderson Burney.

As a young man, he decided to join the U.S. Army where he fought in the Korean War. He served his country well and was very proud as were we of his service up until his death in 1973. He is buried the Veterans Cemetery. I went to put flowers on his grave today. So in honor of Memorial Day, I would like to salute my father for his service to his country.

Monday, May 11, 2009

Start Spreading the News...NY, NY

Good morning, all. I am coming to you live today from New York City! I am here for an extended weekend in honor of Mothers' Day and I am having a blast. It has really been both a relaxing and invigorating trip for me.

New York is kind of my home away from home. I have been coming here for the last 10 years since 1999.

This time I have been on many adventures including a walking tour of Manhattan, Times Square Area and a guided tour of the city via New York Splash/Duck tours which transforms from a tour bus to a vessel that sails up Hudson River! After my voyage, I caught a wonderful play by the late August Wilson entitled, "Joe Turners' Come and Gone." The cast included Ernie Hudson and Latanya Richardson Jackson who is a wonderful actress and wife of Samuel L. Jackson.
Day 2 was Mothers' Day. I started my day off with attending a church service at the Abyssinian Baptist church, the Rev. Calvin O. Butts presiding. He preached a lovely service and the choir as usual was angelic. After church, I ventured over to my favorite Harlem eating spot, Sylvia's Soul Food. Madam Sylvia herself was in attendance and looked rather lovely.
Next I jetted off, by subway and bus of course, to Newark, New Jersey to a performance by the famed Alvin Ailey dances accommpanied by members of Sweet Honey and the Rock. The performance was superb! I have an excellent view of the performance in the 1st Orchestra Box! The music Hall at the New Jersey Performing Arts Center (NJPAC) was gorgeous with stunning ceilings that took my breath away. Next, I journeyed back to New York for an exciting concert at the Beacon Theater featuring, the fabulous Whispers and Teena Marie. Lets just say they turned it out. Both performers had the audience mesmerized and out of their seats for most of the show. Quite a day, huh!
Today, I am headed to Central Park and the public library and I plan to take in a movie this evening.
I am really enjoying my time in New York..... New York!