Note: This article was originally posted last year at this time, but felt it was worthwhile to re-post. Have a great weekend everyone!
Backyard barbeques, American flags, camping, swimming, baseball games, horseshoes, good friends, long weekend, and unofficial start to Summer are just some of the many first thoughts that pop into your head when thinking of Memorial Day. But, as is the case with many established holidays, as time passes by, the orignal meaning of the holiday is lost. We thought we’d take a moment to give a brief history of Memorial Day and give pause to salute those who have died in our nation’s service.
Memorial Day was originally called Decoration Day and came into existence in the years following the Civil War. Decoration Day was a day that was set aside to honor those who were killed in the Civil War by decorating their graves. Some historians believe that this practice actually began before the end of the Civil War and was organized by women’s groups in the south. This tradition went on for a few years, and then, on May 5, 1868 Memorial Day was officially proclaimed by General John Logan, national commander of the Grand Army of the Republic. Memorial Day was then widely observed on May 30, 1868 when flowers were placed on the graves of Union and Confederate soldiers at Arlington National Cemetery.
In 1873, New York became the first state to officially recognized Memorial Day, and by 1890, all of the northern states had followed suit. In the south, it wasn’t until after World War I, when the holiday was changed to honor all Americans who fought in any war, and not just those from the Civil War, that Memorial Day became a recognized holiday. In 1971, Congress passed the National Holiday Act that ensured three-day weekends for Federal Holidays, and Memorial Day was to be officially celebrated on the last Monday of May.
So there you have it. Wherever you may be this weekend, whether it’s your RV at your favorite campground, a backyard with friends and family, a ballgame, or anywhere, try to take a few minutes between sips of your favorite adult beverage or soft drink, and give thanks to the many who have sacrificed before us and are sacrificing now for our freedom.
If there’s someone you’d like to honor for Memorial Day, please feel free to share their name with us in our comments section below along with anything you’d like to say.