In the USA, Memorial Day is observed on the last Monday of May in remembrance of those who lost their lives while in the U.S. Military. Quite frankly, I expected people to swarm the cemeteries but that just doesn’t seem to be the case. Most people don’t work and it’s a popular day for barbecues and parades. I decided that it’s time to learn more about the history of Memorial Day.
The first public ceremony held to honor soldiers killed in battle was back in 431 B.C. This took place in Greece after the Peloponnesian War.
One of the first Memorial Day events held in the USA was back in 1865 in Charleston, South Carolina. The Civil War was over and newly freed slaves had good reason to celebrate.
The original name was Decoration Day as soldiers’ graves were decorated with American flags and flowers. Those honored were soldiers who lost their lives in World War I.
Union General John A. Logan called for May 30, 1868 to be an official day of remembrance. It didn’t signify the date of any particular battle but was to honor those who died in all wars.
In 1950 Congress passed a resolution asking the President to issue a proclamation that Americans should observe Memorial Day as a day for prayer of permanent peace.
In 1968 Congress passed the Uniform Monday Holiday Act. This established Memorial Day as the last Monday in May and provided a three day weekend for federal employees. However it did not become an official federal holiday until 1971.
In 2000 President Bill Clinton signed the National Moment of Remembrance Act. At 3 pm on Memorial Day Americans were asked to observe a moment of silence.
Flags are displayed at half-staff until noon. The flag is then raised to full-staff.
Another tradition is that the President place a wreath at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, a site honoring all who died fighting for their country. The President also delivers a speech.
That’s today’s American History lesson.
Have A Great Sunday!