Memorial Day in the United States of America is the national day of rememberance for those who have died while performing their military duties. Memorial Day is a solemn reminder that our freedom isn’t in fact free. Our freedoms remain intact because they have been vigorously defended by our military personnel. Throughout United States History, our airmen, marines, sailors, and soldiers have sacrificed mightily to preserve the American way of life. All who served gave some. On Memorial Day, we remember that some who served gave all.
The roots of Memorial Day began with the American Civil War. Well before the war was officially over, decoration of the graves of war dead with flowers and wreaths was already a common practice in many locales. Several locations lay claim to having had the first Memorial Day celebrations, but these claims are difficult to validate, and there is much scholarly debate to this day about the true origins of the celebration.
The modern history of Memorial Day actually begins with General John A Logan, the commander in chief of the Grand Army of the Republic. On May 5th, 1868, he proclaimed that May 30th would henceforth be known as “Decoration Day” to honor the fallen from the Civil War. This practice spread quickly, and was observed in all states by the 1880’s.
The name “Memorial Day” was first attested in 1882, and over time this name would slowly supplant “Decoration Day” as the preferred name for the observance. In the wake of World War II, the holiday was commonly referred to in nearly all locales as Memorial Day, and was now observed in honor of those who had died in discharging their miltary duties in all conflicts. In 1967, The U.S. Federal Government officially changed the name of the holiday to Memorial Day.
In 1968, Congress passed the Uniform Monday Holiday Act. This legislation moved the observance of four holidays from their usual dates to the nearest specified Monday to create a three day weekend for workers. This change moved Memorial Day from May 30th to the last Monday in May. This law took effect in 1971, and was adopted eventually as the standard observance by all states after a few years. The three day weekend has become the unofficial start of the summer season for many Americans, who engage in cookouts and other outdoor activities. This has caused some tension with Veterans organizations who have expressed that moving the holiday to a Monday has led to a nonchalant observance by the general public that lacks the solemnity of the original observance.
The VFW, American Legion, and other fraternal veterans groups all have ceremonial events to mark Memorial Day. These solemn observances were well attended by the general public pre-pandemic, and will no doubt continue to be attended in the future as well. Wherever you gather for Memorial Day, we highly recommend taking a moment from your recreational activities to oberve the solemnity of the occasion before resuming your activities with your family and friends.
From all of us at Atlantic Sweeping & Cleaning, we wish you a Happy Memorial Day!