Dating back to the days of horror that tore the nation apart during the 1861-1865 Civil War in the United States, Memorial Day honors those military heroes who gave their lives for their country while serving in the Armed Forces of this nation.
Originally known as Decoration Day, the first observation was held on May 5, 1866 in Waterloo, NY, later declared by President Lyndon B. Johnson to be the official birth of the holiday. As noted on the VA site, local observances were also held prior to that year.
Spearheaded by Major General John A. Logan, in 1868 the day of tribute was moved to May 30.
General Logan’s order for his posts to decorate graves “with the choicest flowers of springtime” urged: “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.”
Memorial Day was declared a national holiday in 1971 by an act of Congress. It was also moved to the last Monday in May, giving Federal employees a three-day weekend. This was later adopted by most businesses. Too often we treat Memorial Day as only the jump-off holiday for the summer months and a much-welcomed break from the daily and high-stress grind of work…and that’s it. Yet, it can and should mean so much more for all of us!
For those unable to visit a military cemetery or memorial today, or participate in any way in a parade, and even for those who did, this short video respectfully honors the fallen who have paid the ultimate price to defend freedom so many times already.