Memorial Day Origins

Memorial Day Origins

Memorial Day was originally called “Decoration Day.” In the USA, we know it as a day of remembrance for all the brave men and women who have died serving and protecting our nation

No one is quite sure where, when or whom is responsible for beginning the observance but well over two dozen towns and cities claim to be the birthplace of Memorial Day. Although Waterloo N.Y. was formally confirmed the birthplace of Memorial Day by President Lyndon Johnson in May 1966, it’s problematic to prove exactly how the day was created or conceived.

No matter the exact date or whereabouts of its origins, it’s clear that Memorial Day rose from the ashes of the Civil War and loved ones wanting to honor the sacrifice of our dead soldiers. On May 5 1868, General John Logan, who was the national commander of the Grand Army of the Republic, stated “The 30th of May, 1868, is designated for the purpose of strewing with flowers, or otherwise decorating the graves of comrades who died in defense of their country during the late rebellion, and whose bodies now lie in almost every city, village and hamlet churchyard in the land,” The date of Decoration Day, as he referred to it, was selected because it was not the anniversary of any other particular battle.

The very first Decoration Day was observed formally at Arlington National Cemetery. 5,000 people gathered to decorate the graves of the 20,000 Union and Confederate soldiers buried there. General James Garfield was present and gave a stirring speech.

In 1873, New York became the first state to formally recognize and observe Memorial Day. By 1890, all northern states observed the holiday. Southern states declined to recognize the day, honoring their dead separately  until after World War I . It was also after the Civil War that Memorial Day became a day to honor both those who died fighting in the Civil War and those Americans who gave the ultimate sacrifice during any war.

These days, nearly every state observes Memorial Day on the last Monday in May.


Memorial Day Red White and Blue Parfait

Strawberry Blueberry Yogurt Parfaits are healthy, budget-friendly,and don’t require any cooking or baking. Use greek yogurt, granola, strawberries, and blueberries for a healthy delicious Memorial Day dessert.
  • 12 ounces plain greek yogurt
  • 1 cup fresh strawberries, sliced
  • ½ cup fresh blueberries
  • 1/4 -1/2 cup your favorite granola

How to Prepare

  • Add 2-4 tablespoons of granola in the bottom of a tall glass or glass bowl.
  • Top with ¼ of yogurt, followed by ¼ of strawberries.
  • Top with ¼ of blueberries.
  • Repeat in layers.
  • Serve
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    Easy Ways to Combat Snack Attacks

    You know the feeling. You find yourself in front of the vending machine or an open refrigerator door looking for something to eat. You need a snack.

    Easy Ways to Combat Snack Attacks

    Actually, snacks can be good for you and are an effective weight management tool. If you are satisfied throughout the day you are less likely to over eat at meals or to binge on a midnight ice cream raid.

    When choosing your snacks, look for ones that contain about 100-200 calories. Also, choose snacks that will fill in food group gaps, like an apple for a fruit serving, a yogurt for dairy. You get the idea.

    Plan your snacks: Make a list and purchase health snacks you enjoy.

    Plan your snack time: If you normally scrounge for something to eat at 3 in the afternoon, set your computer or phone alarm for 2:45 p.m. Take a quick 10 minute walk and then enjoy your pre-planned snack.

    Keep snacks handy: Put them in your drawer at work, in your purse or glove box in your car. One person I know puts pre-planned snacks in labeled lunch bags, one for each day of the week.

    Take your time: Slow down and enjoy your snack. Move away from your desk and never, ever eat while you are watching TV.

    Don’t drink your calories: Beware of high calorie beverages like sport’s drinks, soft drinks, and fruit juices. Pick water instead, and if you need a bit of flavor, add a squirt of lemon or lime juice. Adding a teaspoon of sugar (about 15 calories) is a much better choice than a 12 oz. can of Coke (140 calories, about nine teaspoons of sugar!)

    Check out the list below, choose the ones you like and spread them out over the next week. Be creative and share your ideas with us on our Facebook page.

    Snack Suggestions

    Box of raisins
    Fruits such as bananas, grapes, or an apple
    Cut-up veggies like broccoli, carrots
    Dried fruit
    Apple sauce
    Nuts like almonds, peanuts, walnuts
    Fat-Free Microwave Popcorn
    Dark chocolate
    Peanut butter
    Canned soup
    Granola bars (check the calories)
    Graham crackers
    Baked tortilla chips and salsa
    Wheat crackers
    Animal crackers
    Light yogurt
    String cheese
    Low fat cottage cheese
    Instant oatmeal
    Cereal and milk
    Frozen fruit bars
    Chocolate milk (low fat)

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    May is National Stroke Awareness Month

    May is National Stroke Awareness Month and we’re taking the time to remind everyone that there are steps you can take to help prevent and reduce your risk of stroke.

    The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention report stroke is the fifth leading cause of death in the United States and is a major cause of adult disability1,2. About 800,000 people in the United States have a stroke each year.2 One American dies from a stroke every 4 minutes, on average.2

    While the following information is helpful for stroke prevention, it’s also important to recognize the signs and symptoms of stroke. The Centers for Disease Control and the American Heart Association both share informative tips and education on quickly identifying stroke warning signs as well as how to what to do if you suspect someone is having a stroke.

    How to Help Prevent Stroke

    The CDC focuses on two key areas when it comes to preventing stroke.  These areas involve making healthy lifestyle choices and being aware of medical conditions.

    Healthy lifestyle choices include:

    • Getting enough exercise.
    • Not smoking.
    • Eating a healthy diet.
    • Limiting alcohol use.
    • Maintaining a healthy weight.

    Medical Conditions include: high cholesterol, high blood pressure, diabetes, cardiovascular disease and previous history of stroke.

    Getting Enough Exercise

    Being active daily can help you sustain a healthy weight and decrease cholesterol and blood pressure levels.  The Surgeon General advises that adults get 2 hours and 30 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise, like brisk walking, each week. It’s recommended that children and teens get at least 1 hour of physical activity every day. For more information, see CDC’s Division of Nutrition, Physical Activity, and Obesity Web site.

    Stop Smoking

    Cigarette smoking significantly raises your risk for stroke. If you don’t smoke, don’t start. If you are a smoker, it’s been proven that quitting the habit will reduce your risk for stroke. See your doctor or medical provider for ways to help you quit.

    For more information about tobacco use and quitting, see CDC’s Smoking & Tobacco Use Web site.

    Eat Smart

    Selecting healthy meal and snack alternatives can help you prevent stroke and its complications. Remember to eat plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables.Consuming foods low in saturated fats, trans fat, and cholesterol  but also high in fiber can help you avoid high cholesterol. Another way to help lower and maintain blood pressure is by limiting the salt (sodium) in your diet.To get more details on healthy diet and nutrition, see CDC’s Nutrition, Physical Activity, and Obesity Program Web site.

    Monitor or Decrease Alcohol Intake

    Drinking can increase your blood pressure. A good rule of thumb to remember: Men should not have more than 2 drinks per day, and women only 1. For more information, visit CDC’s Alcohol and Public Health Web site.

    Maintain a Healthy Weight

    Research shows that being overweight or obese raises your risk for stroke. If you are unsure whether or not your weight is in a healthy range, take a look at how doctors often calculate your body mass index (BMI). If you know your weight and height, you can determine your BMI at CDC’s Assessing Your Weight Web site. Medical professionals will also often use waist and hip measurements to measure excess body fat.

    Medical Conditions

    If you already have certain health conditions like high cholesterol, diabetes, cardiovascular disease, high blood pressure or other medical concerns requiring medication, it’s critical that you have these things monitored and checked on a regular basis. Be sure to keep all appointments with your doctor so that you can be your healthiest. You view tips on how to keep updated on your current health conditions on the CDC’s website dedicated to preventing stroke.

    *References provided by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

    1. Kochanek KD, Xu JQ, Murphy SL, Arias E. Mortality in the United States, 2013. NCHS Data Brief, No. 178. Hyattsville, MD: National Center for Health Statistics, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, US Dept. of Health and Human Services; 2014.
    2. Mozzafarian D, Benjamin EJ, Go AS, et al. Heart disease and stroke statistics—2015 update: a report from the American Heart Association. Circulation. 2015:e29–322.
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    Tips to Control “Mindless” or “Bored” Eating

    Tips to Control Mindless or “Bored” Eating

    Do you sometimes find yourself in the kitchen right after dinner looking for something to eat? Do you sometimes find yourself mindlessly eating a bag of chips after a tense call from a client?

    Before you put another bite of food in your mouth, ask yourself “why!” Are you bored? Stressed? Tired? Anxious? You may be eating out of habit and not because you are hungry.

    Use your Walkingspree Food Tracker to track what you eat and when. Look for connections between the two and ask yourself honestly, “Am I eating this because I’m hungry or bored/stressed/fill-in-the-blank.”

    If you find you are eating out of habit, then you need to form a different habit that doesn’t involve food.

    • If you sit and eat while watching TV, try knitting or crocheting, or using your treadmill.
    • If you go straight to the kitchen for a snack after work, change your clothes and take a walk.
    • If you go to the fridge mindlessly, get a glass of ice water instead.
    • If you grab a candy bar at work, take a 5-10 minute walk around the building.

    Small changes add up. Do something else every day and soon you will form a healthy new habit!

    Things to do instead of eating

    Here are some more tips for you to try the next time you want to eat, but are not really hungry.

    - Go for a walk
    - Call a friend
    - Brush your teeth
    - Take a drive
    - Read a book
    - Get up and stretch
    - Vacuum or sweep
    - Organize a drawer or shelf
    - Write a note to a friend
    - Weed the garden
    - Journal
    - Organize photos, DVDs, etc.
    - Clean off your computer desktop
    - Play cards or a board game
    - Work on a jigsaw puzzle
    - Work on a hobby
    - Shoot hoops or practice your golf swing
    - Drink a glass of cold water or a cup of hot tea
    - Chew some gum

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    Plan a Summer Walking Vacation (or Staycation)

    Planning your summer vacation (or staycation)? How about making it a walking vacation?!

    Guided walking tours run the gambit, from architecture to history to shopping to haunted houses! After deciding on your destination, check with the local tourism bureau for river walks, hiking trails or guided tours. Most museums offer self-guided tour material and maps, and some even offer audio-guided tours for a fee.

    Another great resource for self-guided walking tours is Volkssports or IVV clubs. (Google: ivv walks)

    Volkssports, meaning “people” sports, are non-competitive fitness groups that originated in Europe. The American Volkssport Assocation’s website says “Volkssporting is an international sports phenomenon that promotes personal physical fitness and good health by providing fun-filled, safe exercise in a stress-free environment through self-paced walks and hikes, bike rides, swims, and in some regions cross-country skiing and snowshoeing. Walking is the most popular of all U.S. volkssporting activities and has been identified by the U.S. Surgeon General as the most beneficial form of exercise.”

    These walking clubs have associations in the U.S., Canada and Europe, and offer a wealth of information about permanent trails selected by club members. The trails may go through scenic or historic areas, and may be in cities, towns, parks, or rural areas.

    How about these ideas for a walking vacation?

    1. The Royal London Trail from Hyde Park, to Kensington, past Buckingham Palace to Trafalgar Square in England.
    2. Enjoy more than 120 pieces of art at the Benson Sculpture Gardens in Loveland, Colorado.
    3. Following the San Antonio Riverwalk through the King William District, past The Menger Hotel, where Theodore Roosevelt recruited the Rough Riders, an onto the “The Alamo.” (San Antonio also has “ghost tours” where participants can walk from location to location downtown in hopes of encountering paranormal activity).
    4. Vist west Texas and walking the grounds around and up in the hills surrounding Ft. Davis where the settlers heading west would stop for rest, refuge and supplies.

    Throughout the year, individual clubs also organize walking events designed for all fitness levels. No membership is required and it is a great way to experience your destination.


    Don’t forget to:
    - Pack sunblock and insect spray.
    - Wear a hat, a good pair of sunglasses and your pedometer.
    - Carry water and snacks.
    - Don’t overdo it, take regular breaks and remember you have to walk back!

    Botanical gardens, sculpture gardens, zoos … oh, so many opportunities to get your 10,000 steps a day!

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