Monday, May 25, marks the 49th anniversary of the federal observance of Memorial Day. We are so extremely thankful for the sacrifices of all those brave men and women that have given their lives to defend our freedom, that we thought it would be worth putting aside talk of homes, mortgages, decorations and fun to take a quick look back at the origin of this noble observance.
While only a federal holiday for about half a century, Memorial Day origins go back to the Civil War. With over half a million fallen soldiers in nearly every city in the country, General John A. Logan, the commander-in-chief of the Grand Army of the Republic (a Union veterans’ group), issued a decree in 1868 that May 30 should become a nationwide day of commemoration. To honor the fallen, Logan suggested that Americans should lay flowers to decorate their graves. This day was chosen because it was a rare date that didn’t commemorate any Civil War battle AND flowers across the country would be in full bloom. Decoration Day was born, and citizens began placing flowers and wreaths at cemeteries nationwide.
America has continued the tradition of honoring its lost military personnel from WWI, WWII, Vietnam and Korea, and Congress ultimately established a federal holiday as part of the Uniform Monday Holiday Act, moving the date from May 30 to the last Monday in May. The American flag should be flown at half-staff until noon on Memorial Day, then raised to its full height. Congress passed further legislation in 2000 to encourage Americans to pause for a National Moment of Remembrance at 3pm local time.
As a nation, we have added parades, picnics, memorials, vigils, 5ks and other past times. Some purists fear that a 3 day weekend has been created and there is no memory left for those that paid the ultimate sacrifice for our freedom. So no matter how your family chooses to spend this and every Memorial Day, we encourage you to take a moment and remember, and offer thanks, to those who gave freely of their lives so we could live ours in hope and liberty.
God bless you all this Memorial Day weekend and God bless America.
(Special thanks to history.com for help in researching the origins of Memorial Day)