Memorial Day is an American holiday celebrated on the last Monday in May in honor of men and women who died while serving in the U.S. Military service. Memorial Day 2021 will take place on Monday, May 31.
It was initially known as Decoration Day. It began in the years after the Civil War and became an official federal holiday of the united states in 1971. Many Americans celebrate Remembrance Day by visiting cemeteries or memorials, holding family gatherings, and participating in parades. Unofficially, it marks the beginning of summer.
Our flag does not fly because the wind moves it. it flies with the last breath of each soldier who died protecting it
Image: S Pakhrin
History of Memorial Day
May 5, 1868, three years after the end of the Civil War Head of Union Veterans Organization, the Army of the Republic (GAR), Formed Decoration Day as a time to decorate Graves of war dead with flower. Major General John A. Logan said it should be May 30th. The date is believed to have been chosen because flowers would bloom across the country.
The first major celebration that year took place at Arlington National Cemetery across the Potomac River in Washington. The ceremonies centered on the mourning-clad porch of the Arlington mansion, where General Robert E. Lee once lived. Various Washington officials, including General and Mrs. Ulysses S. Grant, presided over the ceremonies. After speeches, children from the Soldiers ‘and Sailors’ orphanages and GAR members walked through the cemetery, scattered flowers on the Union and Confederate graves, recited prayers, and sang hymns.
Local spring tributes to the dead of the civil war have already been held in various locations. One of the first occurred in Columbus, Mississippi. On April 25, 1866, a group of young women went to a cemetery to decorate the tombs of Confederate soldiers who had fallen during the battle of Shiloh. Nearby were the graves of Union soldiers who were neglected because they were the enemy. Disturbed by the sight of the empty tombs, the women also placed some of their flowers on the graves.
Today, cities in the North and South declare as the birthplace of Memorial Day in 1866. Both Macon and Columbus, Georgia, and Richmond, Virginia, claim the title as well.
The village of Boalsburg in Pennsylvania claims it started there two years earlier. A stone in Carbondale Cemetery in Illinois shows that its first Decoration Day celebration took place on April 29, 1866. Carbondale was General Logan’s war home. In connection with the origin of Memorial Day, around 25 places have been named, many of them in the south, where most of the war dead were buried.
Image: Leon Onofri
In 1966, Congress and President Lyndon Johnson declared Waterloo Memorial Day in New York as the “Birthplace.” At a ceremony on May 5, 1966, local veterans who fought in the Civil War were honored. Shops closed, and residents waved flags at half-staff. Proponents of the Waterloo claim say previous observations in other locations were informal, non-communal, or one-off events. At the end of the 19th century, Memorial Day ceremonies were held nationwide on May 30.
The state legislature passed proclamations that day. The Army and Navy passed regulations to ensure proper compliance with their facilities. After World War I, the day was expanded to honor those who died in American wars. In 1971, Memorial Day was declared a National Day by Congress, although it is often referred to as Decoration Day. It was then also celebrated on the last Monday in May, as were some other federal holidays.
Many southern states also have their own days to honoring the Confederate war dead. Mississippi celebrates memorial day the last Monday in April, Alabama celebrates the fourth Monday in April, and Georgia celebrates the memorial day on April 26. North and South Carolina celebrate Memorial day on May 10, Louisiana on June 3, and Tennessee calls Confederate Decoration Day. Texas celebrates Confederate Heroes Day on January 19, and Virginia calls Confederate Memorial Day on the last Monday in May.
Major General John A. Logan ordered his posts to decorate graves with “the finest flowers of spring.” he continued:
We should guard their graves with sacred vigilance. Let pleasant paths invite the coming and going of reverent visitors and fond mourners. Let no neglect, no ravages of time, testify to the present or to the coming generations that we have forgotten as a people the cost of a free and undivided republic – Major General John A. Logan
The crowd attending the first memorial day ceremony at Arlington National Cemetery was about the same as that attending today’s celebration, approximately 5,000 people. Then they placed small American flags on each grave – a tradition that is followed in many national cemeteries today. In recent years, the practice of decorating the graves of all deceased relatives has grown in many families.
The origins of special services to honor war dead go back to the past. Athenian leader Pericles paid tribute to the fallen heroes of the Peloponnesian War over 24 centuries ago, which today could be applied to the 1.1 million Americans who died in the nation’s wars:
“Not only are they commemorated by columns and inscriptions, but they’re also dwelling an unwritten memorial of them, graven not on stone but in the hearts of men.”
To ensure that the sacrifices of fallen heroes in America will never be forgotten, in December 2000, the U.S. Congress passed, and the President signed the “National Memorial Act.” 106-579, Creation of the White House Commission on National Remembrance. The Commission’s policy is to encourage and coordinate the celebration of U.S. Memorial Day and National Day, “to encourage the American people to give something back to their country.”
The National Moment of Remembrance encourages all Americans to take a break wherever at 3 p.m. Local time on Memorial Day to observe a minute’s silence to remember and honor those who died in the service of the nation. Carmella LaSpada, Founder of Moment of Remembrance, said, “It’s a way we can all help put the memorial back in Memorial Day.”
Difference Between Veterans Day and Memorial Day
Why do we celebrate Veterans Day and Memorial Day? And what is the difference between these two holidays?
I admit, I had to do some research to find out but it is good to know the real purpose of these holidays and why they were created in the first place. This is the time when you need to know the difference between Veterans Day and Remembrance Day.
Memorial Day, celebrated annually on the last Monday in May, honors the brave men and women who lost their lives while serving in the U.S. Army. Many communities hold ceremonies in honor of their fallen soldiers on Memorial Day, ensuring that the bravery and sacrifices of such soldiers will never be forgotten.
While many people today view Memorial Day weekend as the unofficial start of summer, the weekend should not be celebrated without a break to reflect on and acknowledge the military personnel who lost their lives to defend freedom and the American way of life.
Memorial day means something much, much bigger than the beginning of summer. The day is full of memories of those we lost mixed with gratitude for the times we had.
While every day is a memorial day for the families of the fallen, they don’t ask you to stay inside and wallow.
But we owe it to them to pause, Reflect, Honor. Note that Memorial Day and Veterans Day are separate holidays with unique purposes and ways to honor one another.
You may be wondering: What is the best way to celebrate each holiday? On Memorial Day, you can honor the dead by attending memorial services in your community or by placing flowers and planting flags on the graves of your local veterans’ cemetery. Veterans Day is an opportunity to do just that. Still, it’s also a great time to show your appreciation to veteran friends and family. You can mark Veterans Day by flying the American flag outside your home, visiting or volunteering at a veteran venue, attending a local event, and thanking veterans and their families for their service.
You don’t have to wait for a national holiday to thank the service members. Every day is a good day to support veterans either through a charity or through a heartfelt thank you to those who have served.
10 Memorial day traditions – it’s more than BBQ evenings
As Memorial Day approaches, millions of people across the country plan weekend getaways, backyard barbecues, and time on the water. While Memorial Day weekend is often seen as the official start of summer, this day has a much more important meaning. Indeed, without the military personnel who ensure our continued freedom, there is a good chance none of these enjoyable activities would be possible. We should never forget that Memorial Day is a day set aside to commemorate those who died in their service.
“Memorial Day is a great opportunity to teach our children about the sacrifice so many men and women have made for our country.”- Nicole Motsek
Here is a list of 10 real Memorial Day traditions,
1. Visit a veterans’ home.
After the Civil War, the United States had many needy and disabled veterans who could not support themselves or get back to work. The first veterans home opened in 1864, and since then, dozens have been built to give back to our vets. It is the least the nation can do, but we as citizens can do more. Come and visit them! Chat with a veterinarian for an hour or two, get the kids to say hello, and hand off a large plate of freshly baked cookies. Please do something to let them know they will not be forgotten.
2. Visit the local veterans’ cemetery
Some graves are well cared for by family members, but when there are no living relatives, this task falls on the shoulders of local veteran’s groups. Help out by bringing flowers and helping to beautify some of the less well-kept graves.
3. Visit a Memorial
War memorials are sacred places where we remember the brave men and women who made the ultimate sacrifice for the United States. The Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington, DC, is chronologically labeled with the names of more than 58,000 American soldiers who have served the country their lives. It’s an amazing place to visit on Memorial Day or any other day. Similarly, the National D-Day Memorial in Bedford, Virginia, offers guests a variety of ways to pay their respects to the soldiers who died in 1944 off the coast of Omaha.
4. Raise your flag
Memorial Day is an excellent time to wave our reds, whites, and blues with real pride! Let the children join in and hang flags from the house and on the lawn. There’s never been a better time to embrace your patriotism – and your garden will look fabulous in stripes and stars. If you have a flagpole, join others in the country by lowering the flagpole from morning to night (local time) as a sign of respect.
5. Attend a parade
Get the full-fledged vacation experience by cheering on your city’s marching band, veterans, and local organizations at the next parade. Check your newspaper to find the parade closest to you.
6. Honor the National Moment of Remembrance
In 2000, Congress addressed the fact that many Americans just use Memorial Day as a day to eat burgers. They created the National Moment to make sure our troops are honored. At 3 p.m. On Memorial Day, every American is asked to pause for just a minute to honor the fallen.
7. Participate in the VFW’s Buddy Poppy program
For nearly 100 years, disabled, hospitalized, and aging veterans have been making red paper flowers called Buddy Poppy every year and sending them to VFW outlets for distribution to encourage donations to the organization. The VFW pays the veterans for making the flowers. The proceeds from the donation are used for the good of the veterans or the services of the survivors. Contact your local VFW to find out how you and your children can join the Buddy Poppy program near you.
8. Hoist a POW/MIA flag
According to the Department of Defense, more than 83,000 Americans are missing in World War II, Korean War, Cold War, Vietnam War, and the 1991 Gulf War. Waving the POW / MIA flag reminds people of their victims and that of their families.
9. Make your own Memorial Day poppy.
On Memorial Day, red poppies are worn as a token of remembrance. The Friday before Memorial Day is considered National Poppy Day. You can buy poppy seed needles from the store. You can also make these yourself using tissue paper by following this simple step-by-step tutorial.
10. Write letters to soldiers and their families.
For your kids, Memorial Day might just be another day off from school. To remind them that it is much more than that, have them write handwritten notes to active US soldiers and veterans.
12 Interesting Memorial Day facts You May Not Know
- Memorial Day was formerly known as Decoration Day. It was originally intended to commemorate the Union and Confederate soldiers who died in the American Civil War.
- The Northern States celebrated Decoration Day with more enthusiasm than the Confederate States.
- In addition to Federal Memorial Day, some of the southern states also celebrate Confederate Memorial Day to honor those who died fighting for the Confederate states during the Civil War. Different states observe this holiday on different days.
- Memorial Day was originally celebrated on May 30th before 1971 when it became a federal holiday and was moved to the last Monday in May to allow Americans a longer weekend to commemorate their fallen loved ones.
- Arlington National Cemetery in Arlington, VA, is one of the largest cemeteries in the world, with over 400,000 graves and over 300,000 fallen veterans.
- More than 40 million Americans come to Arlington Cemetery to pay their respects to those who died fighting for our country every year.
- It was only after World War I that the South adopted Memorial Day, when it was extended to American soldiers who died in all wars, not just the Civil War.
- In 2000, Congress passed the National Monument of Remembrance Act requiring all Americans to stop doing what they are doing on Memorial Day at 3 pm to observe a minute’s silence to remember and honor those who died during their Service in the United States.
- On Memorial Day, the best way to raise the flag is to raise it quickly, then slowly lower it in half until noon, and then raise it again for the rest of the day (or full cover).
- The idea of using red poppies to commemorate fallen soldiers first appeared in the poem “In Flanders Field”, written in 1915 by Lieutenant Colonel John McCrae.
- In 1924, the first artificial poppy factory was established in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, when there was a shortage of poppy seeds from French producers. It kept veterans busy in need of work.
- On Memorial Day, bikers host an event called The Rolling Thunder Run. At this annual motorcycle rally, the participants draw attention to prisoners of war and missing persons.