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May Brings Traditions

Just when life seems uncertain, May arrives and brings traditions, events that remind me that some things in life are certain.  I reach for the security of May traditions.

            I’ve written twelve Mother’s Day columns and have nothing new to share, but celebrating moms is a tradition to hold dear.  My mom made corsages of white flowers for both my grandmothers to wear in memory of their mothers, and Mom and I wore red flowers to honor our living moms when we went to church on the second Sunday in May. Because Mom honored her mom and mother-in-law, Dad made sure that my brother and I gave presents and showed Mom our appreciation and love. 

President Woodrow Wilson proclaimed the first Mother’s Day on May 9, 1914, and he asked Americans to give a public “thank you” to their mothers and all mothers.  For 110 years, we’ve celebrated Mother’s Day.

            Everyone knows someone who will don a cap and gown and be handed a diploma soon.  Across our country, 3.7 million high school students are expected to graduate.  Here in Putnam County’s public schools, more than 500 students will earn their diplomas – private schools and homeschool programs add to that number of graduates. 

            All graduates aren’t 18-years-old and attended school for thirteen years.  We honor kindergarteners and students who finish the highest grade in a school.  Many schools will hold 4th grade or 6th grade or 8th grade graduations, and academic programs, such as medical coding, hold spring graduations.  Colleges and universities, medical schools, and trade schools graduate students in May.

            The Boston Latin School, which opened in 1635, in Boston, Massachusetts was the first public high school that continues to graduate students.  Students have graduated for almost 400 years.

            The end of May brings Memorial Day.  Maybe only those of us who grew up in rural communities or who live near cemeteries where our ancestors are buried celebrate this day.          

As a child, I went with my grandparents and parents to place flowers on family members’ graves and I still do that – even leaving a silk rose for my great-grandparents, Elizabeth and David Rich, whom I never met, but heard Dad’s stories about them. 

The first Memorial Day was observed at Waterloo, New York, on May 30, 1868, to commemorate the sacrifices of Civil War soldiers.  Businesses closed and flags were flown at half-staff. During the late 1800s, communities across our country remembered those who had lost their lives during war.  After World War I, Memorial Day was established as a national holiday to honor those who had died in America’s wars.  

Some cemeteries set a day and time for decoration for families to gather and share ‘dinner on the ground.’ 

            According to Merriam-Webster, a tradition is an inherited, established, or customary pattern of thought, action or belief.  We need traditions because they connect generations and keep us moving forward.  Celebrating Mother’s Day, graduations, and Memorial Day are traditions to cherish, promises that there are certainties in life.