From All of Us at Dab the AIDS Bear Project
Dab the AIDS Bear and I are hoping all of you are having a great Memorial Day! Today is Monday and we are enjoying our three day weekend even though it is a busy time for us. We hope you are having a safe and great weekend while enjoying however you are spending your time. I know many of you are traveling back home today so I wish you safe travel.
So do you know how and why Memorial Day was started in our country?
Memorial Day is the day of the year when Americans honor those brave individuals who gave their lives in military service to the United States. It is a holiday of solemnity and reflection, and one of appreciation for those who are still serving the United States in uniform all around the world. However, Memorial Day has not always been a holiday. In fact, when it first started, it was something very different. To learn how and why did Memorial Day became a national holiday, you must look all the way back to the years following the Civil War.
Why Did Memorial Day Become a National Holiday?
The Civil War remains the bloodiest war in the history of America, with over 600,000 lives lost and hundreds of thousands more left wounded for life. When the war finally ended, many Americans saw it fit to pay tribute to their loved ones who fell in battle.
Many towns and individuals claim that Memorial Day began with them Waterloo, New York, was recognized as the first town to celebrate by President Lyndon B. Johnson but these rumors are unsubstantiated.
What is clear is that as early as the summer of 1865, just months after the assassination of President Lincoln, many Americans were already honoring the war dead with wreaths, flags, and flowers placed upon their graves. In a time when America remained extremely sectarian, the United States was united at least on the front that those who died in service to their nation should be recognized.
It was not until May 5, 1868 that the national commander of the Army of the Republic issued an order that on the 30th of May, the dead buried at Arlington National Cemetery be recognized. By 1873, New York began observing the holiday officially, and by 1890, all northern states in the Union followed suit.
Decoration Day Becomes Memorial Day
Although many of the Southern states refused to celebrate the new found national holiday, now known as Decoration Day, they began celebrating their war dead as well. Even Columbus, Mississippi honored both Union and Confederate soldiers on April 25, 1866 in a Decoration Day memorial.
As the United States grew, many states across the nation began to recognize the holiday, and used it to pay honor and respect to the war dead. When the United States became involved in World War I, known as the Great War at the time, the states began to honor those who fell in that conflict as well. Decoration Day was now truly a national holiday, with American citizens joined together in resolution that those who fought in the best interests of a Union (not merely a faction of the Union) be honored.
Memorial Day Is Official
By the 1880s, Decoration Day became known informally as Memorial Day in certain areas. Both names were used throughout the 1900s, with the term “Memorial Day” gaining prominence over Decoration Day. In 1966, on the centennial of the Warterloo day of remembrance, the House and the Senate passed a joint resolution honoring the birthplace of Memorial Day.
It was not until 1967 when federal law designated Memorial Day as the official name of the national holiday. Under the Uniform Holidays Bill of 1868, Congress moved the holidays from a traditional day of May 30 to the last Monday in May, and by 1971 the bill became a federally recognized piece of legislation.
Today, Americans recognize Memorial Day across the country in various ways. The graves of deceased veterans are still decorated as per the original Decoration Day intent; however, many people celebrate in other ways as well. Some Americans attend memorial services with families of those who were killed in action serving the United States all around the world. Still others celebrate with parades and music events honoring the dead.
Memorial Day is a day of rest for the United States, a day when Americans often hold picnics and spend time with loved ones. No matter how the day is celebrated, it is a day when, above all, Americans take the time to sit back and remember the sacrifices made so that the country can still be free.
And now you know the rest of the story!
Until we meet again; here's wishing you health, hope, happiness and just enough.
big bear hug,