Remembering the fallen…
The unofficial start of summer…
One last day off before school gets out…
A chance to get together with friends and family…
A neighborhood parade tradition…
The reason for some big retail sales…
Firing up the grill for the first time of the year…
Those are all likely thoughts that you have when you first think about Memorial Day.
But did you know that there is so much to this special and important day?
Let’s take a look at some interesting facts about Memorial Day and its history.
Memorial Day began as a response to the Civil War. Its original intent was to commemorate the fallen Union and Confederate soldiers.
According to Mental Floss, “In 1864, women from Boalsburg, Pennsylvania, put flowers on the graves of their fallen soldiers from the just-fought Battle of Gettysburg. The next year, a group of women decorated the graves of soldiers buried in a Vicksburg, Mississippi, cemetery.”
Union General John A. Logan officially founded Memorial Day when he proclaimed: “The 30th of May, 1868, is designated for the purpose of strewing with flowers, or otherwise decorating the graves of comrades who died in defense of their country during the late rebellion, and whose bodies now lie in almost every city, village and hamlet churchyard in the land.”
Due to the practice of decorating graves with flowers, wreaths, and flags, Memorial Day was originally called Decoration Day. It wasn’t until 1967 when the name “Memorial Day” was officially declared by federal law.
May 30th or the Last Monday of May?
Memorial Day was originally observed on May 30 before 1971, when it became a Federal Holiday and was moved to the last Monday in May in order to give Americans a longer weekend to commemorate their fallen loved ones.
On Memorial Day, it is customary to fly the American flag at half-staff until noon, and then raise it to the top of the staff (or full mast) until sunset.
Minute of Silence
In the year, 2000, Congress passed the National Monument of Remembrance Act, which requires all Americans to stop what they are doing at 3:00 pm on Memorial Day to give a minute of silence to remember and honor those who died while service the U.S.
The custom of wearing artificial red poppies on Memorial Day was inspired by the World War I poem “In Flanders Fields,” by John McCrea.