This weekend, all across our great nation, we will celebrate Memorial Day. But, do you know what this holiday represents or the history behind our celebration? We decided to look into this long-held tradition and reveal the significance.
Memorial Day is recognized on the last Monday of May each year. Memorial Day is often confused with Veterans Day. Veterans Day celebrates anyone who has served in the military, whereas Memorial Day honors only the fallen. Originally declared “Decoration Day,” this national holiday was a day set aside for family and friends to honor the men who lost their lives during the Civil War. Later, it would evolve to include honoring anyone, men or women, who died fighting for our freedom in the US Military.
Did you know there are even rules on flying the flag on Memorial Day? The flag should be flown at half staff from sunrise until noon, then raised briskly to the top of the staff until sunset in honor of the nation’s battle heroes.
Below you will find more information and fascinating facts about this national holiday courtesy of the History Channel and Kids Play and Create website.
- Memorial Day is celebrated to honor and remember all the men and women who died fighting for our country. These men and women dedicated their lives so we can be a free nation.
- Some people get Memorial Day and Veteran’s Day confused. Veteran’s Day is a day to honor all the men and women who have served in the US armed forces, Memorial Day to honor those who lost their lives.
- Memorial Day is celebrated every year on the last Monday in May.
- Having a day to honor the soldiers who lost their lives started after the Civil War (1861-1865).
- The original name was Decoration Day.
- Decoration Day was started on May 5th, 1868 by General John A Logan commander of the Grand Army of the Republic head of the Organization of Union Veterans to honor Union soldiers who died in the Civil War.
- It was called Decoration Day because family members of fallen soldiers decorated their graves with flowers.
- The first service to honor fallen soldiers at Arlington National Cemetery was held on May 30th, 1868. President Ulysses S. Grant was present at the ceremony and General James Garfield gave a speech.
- Decoration Day originally only honored the soldiers who died in the Civil War. After World War 1 it was changed to all soldiers who lost their lives in war.
- On May 11, 1950, Decoration Day was changed to Memorial Day.
- President Richard Nixon declared Memorial Day a federal holiday in I971.
- In 1966 congress along with President Lyndon Johnson declared Waterloo New York the birthplace of Memorial Day.
- The official flower of Memorial Day is red poppies.
- People celebrate Memorial Day by placing flowers on soldier’s graves, fly flags at half-staff, attending parades and remembering soldiers who lost their lives.
- Schools, Post Office, most Banks, and other businesses are closed on Memorial Day.
- Memorial Day is the unofficial start to the summer season.
However you decide to celebrate this national holiday, please remember to give thanks for the men and women who gave all, and say a prayer for the soldiers and families left behind. The National Moment of Remembrance, established by Congress, asks Americans, wherever they are at 3 p.m. local time on Memorial Day, to pause in an act of national unity for a duration of one minute.
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