31 May 2010Features
Every year, we take the last Monday of May off from work and school, and typically think of it as the “kick-off” to summer. However, it is important to remember why we celebrate Memorial Day, and where it came from.
What is Memorial Day? : Memorial Day is a patriotic holiday in the United States that is usually celebrated on the last Monday of May. On this day we celebrate the remembrance of the service men and women who gave their lives for their country. It honors those who died in the Spanish-American War, World War I, World War II, the Korean War, Vietnam, and Desert Storm.
The First Memorial Day: The first observance of Memorial Day was in Waterloo, New York on May 5, 1866. General John A. Logan and General John Murray helped bring attention to the holiday nation-wide, which helped it’s popularity grow. On May 5, 1868 Logan issued a proclamation that “Decoration Day” be observed nationwide. The date was changed later that year so that it did not coincide with the date of any battles. The name “Memorial Day” was not used until 1882, and did not become common until after WWII.
Observances: Traditionally, people observe this holiday by visiting cemeteries and memorials, and a national moment of remembrance takes place at 3 p.m. local time. It is also traditional to fly flags at half-staff from dawn until noon local. Volunteers also place American flags on gravesites.