Remember Decoration Day

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Bruce caricatureBruce The Blog
By Bruce Apar
When Bruce The Blog Listens, People Talk

You can tell to which generation someone belongs by whether she or he remembers when Memorial Day annually was held on May 30, regardless of what day of the week that date occurred.

In 1862, a Civil War general, John Logan, proposed that May 30 be designated a day of remembrance throughout the land.

It was 45 years ago (1971) that Memorial Day for the first time ceased being observed exclusively on May 30. It instead became part of the Uniform Monday Holiday Act, to be held on the last Monday of May, as enacted by Congress three years prior (1968).

It just so happens that this year’s Memorial Day 2016—next Monday—lands on the commemorative date of May 30. That calendar coincidence presents an opportunity to recall another bygone characteristic of “Memorial Day”—it used to be called Decoration Day, for reasons worth remembering.

National Cemeteries Created

The unprecedented number of fatalities in the Civil War—the cause of more deaths than any conflict in American annals—necessitated the creation of our first national cemeteries, according to History.com.

By the late 1860s, a ritual evolved in which the graves of the Civil War’s fallen were decorated by locals in towns across the country. The show of respect and gratitude paid homage to those who gave the ultimate sacrifice for their country and fellow citizens.

Therein lies the primal sanctity of a communal remembrance whose profound meaning too easily is buried by the more mundane imperatives of our mechanized society. The singularity of Decoration Day falling on May 30 for the first 100 years has yielded to the cookie-cutter convenience of a generic three-day holiday weekend, which was created as a perk for federal employees.

Waterloo, N.Y. Is Memorial Day Official Birthplace

The upstate New York town of Waterloo first observed Decoration Day in 1866, and 100 years later it was declared by the federal government “the official birthplace of Memorial Day.” The reason it was so honored, as reported by History.com, is because Waterloo was among the first to hold “an annual, community-wide event during which businesses closed and residents decorated the graves of soldiers with flowers and flags.”

The solemnity of that early American Memorial Day is muted in our day by the sound of retail sales trumpeting “Happy Memorial Day!” As oxymorons go, that one is hard to beat and even harder to justify when reading about the birth of the holiday.

I encourage any business to promote itself with thematic sales events, but perhaps in this case a more fitting declaration of our independence is “Salute Memorial Day!”

Let’s do whatever we can to keep it a secularly holy day; to remember warriors by decorating their burial places; to publicly thank neighbors and strangers who endured the ravages of war; to salute them all, as they parade along your main street and wave the flag of freedom we never for one second should take for granted.

On a personal note: Thank you, Dad (aka “Sarge” in WWII), for all that you gave your family and your country.  

Solders' Memorial Day-May 30

Memorial Day 2016 falls on May 30, just like it did for more than 100 years, until 1971, when a federal law moved it to Monday every year, regardless of the date.

Media and marketing specialist Bruce Apar is Chief Content Officer of Pinpoint Marketing & Design, a Google Partner Agency, where he is a partner with Pinpoint CEO and Google Adwords Certified Professional Bruce Mishkin. Apar is a weekly columnist for Halston Media newspapers and the PennySaver, and a writer for Westchester Magazine. Under the banner of APAR All-Media, he is a consultant for Hudson Valley events and organizations. Follow him as Bruce The Blog and Hudson Valley WXYZ on social media. Reach him at bapar@me.com or (914) 275-6887.

Leap Day Daze

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Bruce caricatureBruce The Blog
By Bruce Apar
When Bruce The Blog Listens, People Talk

Hoppy Leap Day

What does self-help guru Tony Robbins have in common with William Tell composer Giaocchino Rossini and Pope Paul III? They all were born on Feb. 29, the two-thousand-year-old calendar correction that pays us a visit once every four years and was the brainchild of one Julius Caesar.

Leap Day babies has its own category in The Guinness Book of World Records. One family in Great Britain has the distinction of three successive generations, spanning 56 years, being born on Feb. 29.

Speaking of long odds, none of us should expect to win the lottery, but it’s no leap to say that, this year, each of us wins one-quarter-of-one-percent more time, thanks to magical Day No. 366 (though sequentially it’s Day No. 60).

And what better gift than to have Leap Day fall on a Monday! Who wouldn’t leap at the chance to celebrate an unscheduled three-day weekend? Hoppy Leap Day!

Michael Kay

New York Yankees announcer Michael Kay always calls extra innings bonus cantos.

New York Yankees announcer Michael Kay would call it bonus cantos, his homage to Latin players’ phrase for the extra innings tacked on when a beisbol game is tied after the regulation nueve innings.

To make the most of bonus cantos, we all should take a quantum leap and use the day to do something we might not otherwise think, or have time, to do.

caesar-salad-2-title

Immortal emperor and general Julius Caesar is the (Ro)man who gave us Leap Day.

Don’t like Caesar salad? Order one anyhow, in tribute to the historical figure who bequeathed us the day.

Tell someone you secretly loathe to take a leap, and then add that you’re only kidding. Oops! That’s what we do on a different quasi-holiday that kicks off the month of April.

Lover's Leap

Here’s one of the exotic pursuits that it’s advisable not to do on the extra day of the year that arrives Feb. 29.

Those on a romantic rebound shouldn’t get too close to Lover’s Leap. For those deep in a relationship, why not take a leap of faith and propose.

According to Irish legend, Leap Day is when women propose to men.

Balancing gender roles is in harmony with the day’s purpose of balancing the year. (If we didn’t have a leap day quadrennially, the world’s atomic timekeepers assure us, we would lose six hours every 12 months.)

Antique crochet gloves

An olden European social custom dictated that a suitor who did not accept a marriage proposal from his lady on Leap Day was expected to buy her a dozen pair of gloves to hide the shame of naked fingers sans engagement ring.

In the old country, European aristocrats were unflinchingly serious about a young man’s obligation to accept a young lady’s marriage proposal on Leap Day. At one point, it was legislated that spurning the conjugal overture required the lout to buy a dozen pair of gloves for the lovely-lass-turned-lonely-lass, thus enabling her to mask the absence of an engagement ring.

The Greeks were suspicious of this extra day, with an attitude that said, “What? You come around once every four years and expect us to fall all over ourselves in giddy rapture?”

The Greeks actually preached “look before you leap,” and deemed it unlucky to be married anytime in a Leap Year, let alone on Leap Day.

Pope_Robbins_Rossini

(from left) Pope Paul III, motivational maven Tony Robbins and William Tell Overture composer Giaocchino Rossini all are Leap Day babies.

If our friends Rossini, Robbins or Pope Paul III were Scottish, the day they were born would have sent shivers into their parents.

The Scots believed it was bad news to enter the world on Feb. 29, so they presumably would just as soon have scotched the extra day.

By the way, if you’ve ever wondered how Tony Robbins, born in 1960, is able to retain his boyish good looks, now you know: In leap years, he’s only a precocious 11-year-old. 

Click here for a fun read of the “20 Craziest Facts about Leap Year,” in U.K. newspaper The Telegraph. 


Media and marketing specialist Bruce Apar, also known as Bruce The Blog, is Chief Content Officer of Pinpoint Marketing & Design, a Google Partner agency. He also is an independent content and media consultant under the banner of APAR All-Media, a Hudson Valley marketing agency. Follow him on Bruce The Blog and Hudson Valley WXYZ on social media. Reach him at bapar@me.com or (914) 275-6887.

Flakes in the Forecast

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By Bruce Apar
When Bruce The Blog Listens, People Talk

 

Several weeks ago, moonlighting meteorologists advised me that winter 2016 was going to be much milder compared with what we slogged through a year ago. With no substantial snow to speak of through the first half of January, that’s holding true so far.

snow forecast

The Farmers’ Almanac (FA), which harbors a legendary clairvoyance that envisions weather patterns many months ere everyone else, sees it differently.

The FA predicted that “Over the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic States, the winter will be stormy with a good amount of snow (italics mine).”

The Almanac continues, “We are ‘red-flagging’ the second week of January and the second week of February for possible heavy winter weather with a long, drawn out spell of stormy weather extending through much of the first half of March.”

With a frigid front rearing its blustery head in mid-January, the nearly 200-year-old bible of long-range forecasting was looking to be what Larry David would call “pret-ty” prophetic thermometer-wise, though less all-knowing in its snowfall forecast.

After the fraught year America (and the rest of planet Earth) had in 2015 — the enormity of devastating death tempered only by the most glorious summer in many a moon — who wouldn’t welcome an unseasonably mild Hudson Valley winter right about now?  We need to catch our breath to take stock of our shaken sanity.

Drone-Injury-Video-Clip

Defective drones are enough to make a grown man moan. Photo source: droneinjurieslawyer.com

Hoverboard-on-Fire-UK-Hoverboard-Explodes-Into-Flames-Explodes-Hoverboard-China-Fire-WKRG-US-Price-Amazon-Fire-Explosion-LiveLea-403616

Hoverboards that burst into flames also make great kindling wood for your fireplace. Photo source: express.co.uk

In more mundane matters, 2015 gave way to 2016 with the prospect of fire underfoot (in the form of inflammable hoverboards), aided and abetted by identified flying objects hovering skyward (those dastardly drones that need to be grounded with an industrial-strength fly-swatter).

If both of these futuristic playthings persist, when we’re not busy dodging bored kids on boards wherever we walk, we’ll be ducking battery-powered propellers to avoid unwanted haircuts out of shear [sic] thin air.

How either of those clearly-not-ready-for-prime-time, wondrous gadgets were allowed to be marketed to consumers so prematurely and recklessly is a wonder in itself.

Tiger Woods with tiger

Hold that Tiger in your memory because you won ‘t be seeing much of him playing any time soon. Photo source: zap2it.com

Hard to believe we’ve entered a year when a virtually decrepit Tiger Woods is fading fast instead of shaping fade shots. Not that he’s alone on the back nine: The NFL’s bruised Bronco, Peyton Manning, is at 4th and goal with precious little time left on the clock. The NBA’s scowling sharpshooter Kobe Bryant is about to hear a buzzer even he can’t beat.

We may not have those athletically-aging greats to enjoy watching anymore on the playing field, but we can look forward this year to the greatest show on earth in the form of the 2016 presidential sweepstakes.

Speaking of the national election, I need to double check the Farmers’ Almanac right now to see if it predicts a recordsetting snow job through Election Day, precipitated by a steady stream of flakes.

When it does snow, don’t forget to shovel it… which reminds me: also don’t forget to vote.

Here’s wishing you a Sweet ‘16!  


Media and marketing specialist Bruce Apar, also known as Bruce The Blog, is Chief Content Officer of Pinpoint Marketing & Design, a Google Partner agency. He also is an independent content and media consultant under the banner of APAR All-Media, a Hudson Valley marketing agency. Follow him on Bruce The Blog and Hudson Valley WXYZ on social media. Reach him at bapar@me.com or (914) 275-6887.