By Michael Romain
Did you know that Memorial Day used to be known as Decoration Day and has its origins in the wake of the U.S. Civil War? The holiday was instituted as a national act of remembering fallen Union and Confederate soldiers. Since then, the holiday has expanded to commemorate all American soldiers who have died while serving. If you don’t have any close relatives or friends in the armed forces, Memorial Day may be indistinguishable from any other patriotic-seeming holiday, like the Fourth of July or Labor Day — times to barbecue, miss school without punishment, guiltlessly lounge around the house and root for sports teams. Those of us who haven’t suffered the perils of war, whether directly or indirectly, may have to stretch our social imaginations a bit and go beyond beyond beer, TV and barbecue to bond with those Americans who take this holiday a lot more seriously.
One extremely effective way of doing this is to visit the website of the Maywood Bataan Day Organization, which commemorates fallen soldiers from this Village, not just on Memorial Day, but just about everyday. Here’s an excerpt that may help you understand the significance of Bataan Day. As you’re reading, imagine yourself (as I did), in those kids’ shoes. It’s something to ponder. I must say, it makes you appreciate the barbecue and the beer a bit more:
“They were barely more than kids, only in their teens and early twenties. Their buddies from Proviso High School called them ‘Weekend Warriors’. They were members of the 33rd Tank Company, 33rd Infantry Division of the Illinois National Guard based at the Armory in Maywood, Illinois. In September 1940, the Draft Act had been passed and selected National Guard Units were called into active duty to prepare for the possibility of entering the war in Europe. The 33rd Tank Company was organized May 3, 1929 at Maywood, Illinois and was inducted into active Federal service as Company “B” of the 192nd Tank Battalion on November 25, 1940.
One hundred twenty-two of these men left the Armory at Madison Street and Greenwood Avenue in Maywood to board a Northwestern Railroad train which took them to Fort Knox, Kentucky, where Company B joined Company A from Janesville, Wisconsin. Company C from Port Clinton, Ohio, and Company D from Harrodsburg, Kentucky, to form the 192nd Tank Battalion.”
To read the rest, click here.