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District Energy System

General Manager's Corner

Tim HestleSpring 2015
By: Tim Hestle

Memorial Day

With Memorial Day approaching, I decided to do a little research. Everyone knows that Memorial Day is a holiday and it is observed on the last Monday in May, because we get a long, three day weekend. But what is Memorial Day? Why is it celebrated? How did it get started?

American FlagThe War Between the States or Civil War claimed more lives than any war in U.S. history. Afterward, Americans in various towns and cities across the nation began holding springtime tributes to the countless fallen soldiers. It is unclear where this tradition originated; however, in 1966 the federal government declared Waterloo, N.Y., the official birthplace of Memorial Day. Waterloo hosted its first annual, community-wide event, on May 5, 1866, with businesses closing and residents decorating the graves of soldiers with flowers and flags.

In 1868, General John A. Logan, the leader of a Civil War veterans’ organization, called for a Nationwide Day of Remembrance. May 30 was chosen because it was not the anniversary of any particular battle. Due to graves’ being covered with flowers and flags, he called this day of remembrance “Decoration Day.” On the first Decoration Day, General James Garfield made a speech at Arlington National Cemetery, and 5,000 participants decorated the graves of the 20,000 Union and Confederate soldiers buried there.

Memorial Day, as Decoration Day gradually came to be known, originally honored only those who lost their lives while fighting in the Civil War. During World War I, the United States found itself embroiled in another major conflict, and the holiday evolved to commemorate U.S. military personnel who died in all wars. For decades, Memorial Day continued to be observed on May 30, the date Logan had selected for the first Decoration Day. Then, in 1968, Congress passed the Uniform Monday Holiday Act, which established Memorial Day as the last Monday in May. In 1971, Memorial Day officially became a federal holiday. A national moment of remembrance takes place at 3 p.m. local time on that day each year to honor men and women who died while serving in the U.S. military.

The tradition of decorating graves continues today. Many Americans observe Memorial Day by visiting cemeteries or memorials, holding family gatherings, and participating in parades.

Unofficially, Memorial Day marks the beginning of summer.

Another kick-off for the beginning of the summer is DES’ preparation for the cooling season. The chillers have had all preventive maintenance performed, the tubes have been cleaned, and the cooling towers are being refurbished. Additional water treatment chemistry has been added to the chilled-water loop to aid with the exchange of heat, thus making cooling more efficient. A steam outage has been scheduled for July 19 to make necessary repairs and increase the reliability of the steam system prior to the next heating season.

I hope you enjoyed the history lesson and that everyone has a great summer. This Memorial Day, please take a few moments to remember the men and women who made the ultimate sacrifice so we can enjoy the things we do. Thanks.