Memorial Day, the last Monday of May is almost here. This is the day that we have set aside to remember the men and women who died while serving in our nation’s armed forces.
Memorial Day was originally called Decoration Day.
On this day mourners honored the Civil War’s dead by decorating their graves with flowers. In 1868, James Garfield made a speech at Arlington National Cemetery. After the speech 5,000 participants decorated the graves of the more than 20,000 Union and Confederate soldiers. This celebration was inspired by local observances that had taken place in various locations in the three years since the end of the Civil War. For this reason several cities claim to be the birthplace of Memorial Day.
By the late 19th century, many communities across the country had begun to celebrate Memorial Day, and after World War I, observers began to honor the dead of all of America’s wars. In 1971, Congress declared Memorial Day a national holiday.
This day should be about more than super sales and long weekends.
Traditionally, our flag was raised to the top of the staff and then solemnly lowered to the half-staff position, where it remains only until noon. It is then raised to full-staff for the remainder of the day. The half-staff position honors those who gave their lives for our country. At noon, their memory is raised by the living, who resolve not to let their sacrifice be in vain, but to rise up in their stead and continue the fight for liberty and justice for all.
Other observances included wearing red poppies, visiting cemeteries, decorating the graves of fallen heroes with flags and flowers, and visiting memorials.
We ask you to help us celebrate this day, not just by honoring the dead, but also the living. Please join us in supporting veterans and active duty servicemembers.