why do we celebrate memorial day today

It s easy to forget what Memorial Day actually means while you re sitting by the pool and looking ahead at summer vacation but the day signifies much more than just a three-day weekend. Memorial Day is a solemn day of remembrance for everyone who has died serving in the American armed forces. The holiday, originally known as Decoration Day, started after the Civil War to honor the Union and Confederate dead. It s unclear exactly where the holiday originated Charleston, S. C. , Waterloo, N. Y. , Columbus, Ga. and other towns all claim to be the birthplace of the holiday. The event in Charleston that may have precipitated the holiday offers poignant evidence of a country struggling to rebuild itself after a bloody war: 257 Union soldiers died in prison in Charleston during the Civil War and were buried in unmarked graves, and the town s black residents organized a May Day ceremony in which they landscaped a burial ground to properly honor the soldiers. In the years following the Civil War, Memorial Day celebrations were scattered and, perhaps unsurprisingly, took root differently in the North and South. It wasn t until after World War II that the holiday gained a strong following and national identity, and it wasn t officially named Memorial Day until 1967. The final event that cemented the modern culture of Memorial Day in America was in 1968 when Congress passed the Uniform Holiday Act, designating Memorial Day as the last Monday in May rather than May 30, as it had previously been observed.


This ensured a three-day weekend and gave the day its current status as the unofficial beginning of summer, mixing serious reflection with more lighthearted fun.
The Unofficial Start of Summer Today is Memorial Day in the US. For many of us, the holiday marks the unofficial start to summer. Itвs become a time for backyard BBQs, parades, and a big вol serving of Americana. Unfortunately, sometimes lost in planning out our three-day-weekends is the real reason we celebrate the day. Here is a quick look back at the history of Memorial Day in case you need a reminder about why we observe this solemn holiday. Origins Memorial Day has its origins in the American Civil War. When the war ended in the Spring of 1865, hundreds of thousands of soldiers had lost their lives. To remember and honor these fallen soldiers, Americans in various cities and towns began holding springtime tributes. Residents would visit their local cemeteries to recite prayers and to decorate Union and Confederate graves with flowers. The act of decorating graves with flowers goes back to ancient times, and it s hard to pinpoint exactly where this custom began following the Civil War. It seems that many communities independently initiated Civil War memorial gatherings. While many towns claim to be the first, Waterloo, New York, is generally recognized as the birthplace of this tradition (you can thank the for that).


For Waterlooвs inaugural celebration on May 5, 1866, business closed and residents decorated the graves of soldiers with flowers and flags. Decoration Day All these independent memorial celebrations led General John A. Logan, the national commander of the, to propose a more organized observance. On May 5, 1868, in his, he called for a nationwide day of remembrance to occur on May 30th. He chose that date because it wasnвt the anniversary of any battle in particular. On the very first Decoration Day, James Garfield made a speech at Arlington National Cemetery. 5,000 people participated, decorating the graves of the 20,000 soldiers buried there. The memorial lived on in many Northern states following that initial observance, and by 1890, many had made Decoration Day an official state holiday. Southern states continued to honor their dead on separate days until after World War I. Memorial Day is Born Over time, Decoration Day came to be known as Memorial Day. After World War I, the holiday itself went through a change. Instead of just remember those who died in the Civil War, the day came to be a recognition of all American military personnel who died in all wars. People continued to celebrate Memorial Day on May 30th until 1968, when Congress passed the.


Memorial Day was established as a federal holiday to be observed on the last Monday of May. The change went into effect in 1971. Memorial Day Today There are various traditions associated with Memorial Day today. People continue to place flowers on the graves of fallen soldiers, and it remains a day for people to reflect on the sacrifices made by others. There are also numerous parades held in cities and towns across America, many which feature military themes. While the holiday itself was meant to be a solemn remembrance, there is no denying that Memorial Day has also come to be marked by shopping sales, sports, vacations and lighthearted fun, and we think thatвs okay. There is no shame in using the holiday to partake in all the activities that make America great. If you do get a chance though, perhaps take some time to reflect on those brave men and women who made the ultimate sacrifice protecting your freedom. After all, that is what the holiday is supposed to be all about. We ll leave you with a poem often associated with Memorial Day. Between the crosses, row on row, The larks, still bravely singing, fly Scarce heard amid the guns below. We are the Dead. Short days ago We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow, Loved and were loved, and now we lie In Flanders fields. The torch; be yours to hold it high. We shall not sleep, though poppies grow In Flanders fields.

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