Memorial Day, originally called Decoration Day, is a day of remembrance for those who have died in our nation’s service. There are many stories to its actual beginnings. Waterloo, N.Y., was declared the official birthplace of Memorial Day by President Lyndon Johnson in May 1966. Every town with planned or spontaneous gatherings of people in the 1860s tapped into the universal need to honor their war dead. Each contributed honorably to the growing movement, culminating in Maj. Gen. John A. Logan’s official proclamation in 1868.
Memorial Day is not about division. It is about coming together to honor those who gave their all. It is a day of reconciliation. Appreciation of the freedoms we now enjoy.
Memorial Day was first observed when flowers were placed on the graves in Arlington Cemetery. The first state to officially recognize the holiday was New York in 1873.
In 1971, President Richard Nixon declared Memorial Day a national holiday. Communities organized parades, marches, speeches and church services. Since the late 1950s , soldiers of the 3rd U.S. Infantry place small American flags at each of the more 260,000 gravestones of the Arlington Cemetery. They patrol 24 hours a day during the weekend to ensure each flag remains standing. The President or Vice President offers a speech honoring the contributions of the dead and lays a wreath on the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. In 2004 Washington D.C held its first Memorial Day parade in over 60 years.
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Traditional observances of Memorial Day, however, have diminished over the years. The graves of the fallen are increasingly ignored and neglected. To re-educate and remind American’s of Memorial Day, “The National Moment of Remembrance” resolution was passed in 2000, asking that at 3 p.m. local time, all American’s, “Voluntarily and informally observe in their own way, a moment of remembrance and respect, pausing from whatever they are doing for a moment of silence.
Attend a memorial day ceremony near you. Veteran’s thank you!