“Once upon a time, before Memorial Day inspired thoughts of a weekday at the beach, it marked an opportunity to remember those who have made the ultimate sacrifice in defense of America.”
Memorial Day, originally called Decoration Day, is a day of remembrance for those who have died in our nation’s military service.
It’s difficult to prove conclusively the origins of the day. It’s more likely that it had many separate beginnings; each of those towns and every planned or spontaneous gathering of people to honor the war dead in the 1860’s tapped into the general human need to honor our dead.
Memorial Day was officially proclaimed on May 5, 1868 by General John Logan, and was first observed on May 30, 1868, when flowers were placed on the graves of Union and Confederate soldiers at Arlington National Cemetery. After World War I, the holiday changed from honoring just those who died fighting
in the Civil War, to honoring Americans who died fighting in any war.
Traditional observance of Memorial Day has diminished over the years. Many Americans nowadays have forgotten the meaning and traditions of Memorial Day. At many cemeteries, the graves of the fallen are increasingly ignored, neglected. Most people no longer remember the proper flag etiquette for the day. While there are towns and cities that still hold Memorial Day parades, many have not held a parade in decades. Some people think the day is for honoring any and all dead, and not just those fallen in service to our country.
The “National Moment of Remembrance” resolution was passed on Dec. 2000, which asks that at 3 p.m. local time, for all Americans “To 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 or listening to ‘Taps.”
The Moment of Remembrance is a step in the right direction to returning the meaning back to the day. What is needed is a full return to the original day of observance. Set aside one day out of the year for the nation to get together to remember, reflect and honor those who have given their all in service to their country.
Across the U.S. this weekend, Americans are honoring the fallen, veterans, and military personnel in ceremonies and private remembrances.
May God bless our service men and women and their families on this Memorial Day.