Traditionally, the last Monday of May is crowned with a celebration of Memorial Day. The holiday’s main aim is to honor all those men and women who died while fulfilling their military duties during their service in the US. Initially known as Decoration Day, Memorial Day became a federal holiday in 1971, following the Civil War. The holiday is usually observed by visiting memorials or cemeteries. On this day, many families gather together and take part in parades.
The Civil War took a number of lives that any conflict in the US history did. Thus, by the 1860s, American citizens had started to hold tributes to the fallen soldiers, whose deaths were countless. These springtime tributes included putting flowers on the graves and reciting prayers.
Did you know that a national moment of remembrance is held at 3:00 p.m. every year on Memorial Day? Another interesting fact is that the official birthplace of the holiday was declared as Waterloo, New York. The place was chosen since it first hosted an event when businesses were closed and its residents decorated soldiers’ graves with national flags and spring flowers.
Why Decoration Day?
General John A. Logan proclaimed that the designated purpose of the day is to honor all the comrades who died while defending our country by decorating their graves with flowers. The date of May 30 was chosen, since it wasn’t the anniversary of any battle.
Believe it or not, on the first Decoration Day, approximately 20,000 graves of Union and Confederate soldiers were decorated. By 1890, all the US states in the north organized similar memorial events, while the majority of states in the south honored the dead on different dates.
Evolution of the Day
Originally, only soldiers lost in the Civil War were honored. However, due to the major conflict, World War I, Americans began to commemorate all those military that died in all wars.
For decades, Memorial Day was observed on May 30 – the date selected by General John A. Logan. In 1969, the Uniform Monday Holiday Act was passed. Since then, every last Monday of May has been dedicated to the celebration of Memorial Day in the United States. Therefore, all federal employers have a three-day weekend at the end of May.
Memorial Day parades are hosted in all the cities across the United States. The largest parades are in New York, Chicago, and Washington, D.C. Americans also visit memorials and cemeteries. Due to the fact that Memorial Day unofficially marks the beginning of summer season, some people throw parties or barbecues.
Honoring all those who died in military service is the main point of the day. Don’t forget to put the flowers on the graves of the people thanks to whom you have a peaceful life. Happy Memorial Day to all!