Memorial Day, which is celebrated on the last Monday in May, honors service members who have died in military service to the nation. The holiday has roots dating back to the post-Civil War era, when citizens would informally place spring flower memorials on the graves of fallen soldiers.
In April 1865, following Lincoln's assassination, commemorations were widespread. The more than 600,000 soldiers of both sides who fought and died in the Civil War meant that burial and memorialization took on new cultural significance. Under the leadership of women during the war, an increasingly formal practice of decorating graves had taken shape. In 1865, the federal government also began creating the United States National Cemetery System for the Union war dead.
Perhaps the most consistent Memorial Day practice remains decorating individual graves, now frequently with a miniature flag. This reflects both the grand sweep and the intensely personal aspect of Memorial Day. The nation as a whole designates a single day to honor all of its fallen service members. Yet each gravesite being decorated represents a single person who answered the call of duty, and died while doing so. In this sense Memorial Day is both national and personal. On this day above all others, let no remembrance be unshared and let no one grieve alone.
This is very lacking in its historical representation. Decoration Day was started in the South and not in the North or by US Military. There are disputes over which town first started Decoration Day. Originally different days were celebrated at various towns and in various states in the South. Decoration Day was celebrated to honor Confederate dead and later the North began followed suit with Memorial Day. Eventually the days, names, and dates were merged into Memorial Day. On Decoration Day memorial wreaths were placed on the graves of the Confederate dead.
Logan, who would eventually run for vice president, called it Decoration Day because he said the fallen should be honored by "strewing with flowers, or otherwise decorating, the graves of comrades who died in defense of their country during the late rebellion." The month of May was likely chosen due to an abundance of spring flowers.
Memorial Day began more than 100 years ago, honoring soldiers who died in the Civil War. It was first observed on May 30, 1868, and was called Decoration Day at the time. Today, the namesake tradition continues by decorating the gravesites of fallen soldiers.
1. Wear or display a red poppy.Around Memorial Day, you usually can find Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW) members selling paper red poppies in front of shopping centers. Now a widely recognized memorial symbol for soldiers who have died in conflict, the red poppy tradition grew from the World War I poem, "In Flanders Field," by Canadian Lieutenant-Colonel John McCrae. The poem refers to the red poppies that grew over the graves of fallen soldiers in the lines:
4. Watch the National Memorial Day Concert.Broadcast live from the U.S. Capitol Building's West Lawn, the National Memorial Day Concert has become a memorial service for the entire nation. Featuring the National Symphony Orchestra as well as military bands and choral groups, the concert is a moving tribute to the fallen and their families. This year's concert takes place on Sunday, May 29 at 8 p.m. and is broadcast on PBS.
6. Visit a national cemetery or memorial.Attend the cemetery's Memorial Day ceremony or visit the graves of fallen soldiers and place flowers. Many cemeteries have memorials and pathways commemorating soldiers and veterans. Click here for a list of all national cemeteries by state. If you do not have a national cemetery in your area, click here to see if there is a state veterans cemetery nearby.
The Army remembers, recognizes and honors the ultimate sacrifices made by fallen Soldiers. The Army will join the nation in observing Memorial Day by participating and hosting remembrance ceremonies on installations, pausing for a moment of silence, visiting memorials, and placing American flags at gravesites. Soldiers, Army Civilians and their Family members also observe the National Moment of Remembrance. Congress established the act in 2000 to increase awareness and reverence of Memorial Day and to honor Americans who died while defending the nation and its values. The act encourages Americans everywhere to pause for one minute at 3 p.m. local time on Memorial Day to remember and reflect on the sacrifices made by many to provide freedom for all.
Although Memorial Day did not become an official federal holiday until 1971, its origins can be traced all the way back to the Civil War. On May 30, 1868, Union General John A. Logan called for a national day of remembrance. Originally known as Decoration Day,the holiday honored fallen soldiers by decorating their graves with flowers, wreaths and flags.
At the first ceremony at Arlington National Cemetery, 5,000 people participated in decorating the graves of fallen soldiers from the Civil War. By the late 1800s, all the northern states recognized Decoration Day. It wasn't until after World War I, when the holiday changed from recognizing Civil War soldiers to honoring all dead military, that the whole of the country participated on May 30 every year.
According to the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, it is believed that date was chosen because flowers would be blooming across the country and would make wreaths with which to decorate the graves of fallen soldiers. And, so, for decades Memorial Day on May 30 was simply a day of memorial and remembrance.
Most cities continued to honor the original spirit of the day by decorating graves, which grew to include not just Civil War Soldiers, but also those who died in World War I and II. People even honored those who gave their lives in service of others, such as the Red Cross. In 1919, the Red Cross sent volunteers to Serbia to treat the worst typhus epidemic in history. Many of the humanitarian aid workers lost their lives fighting the disease. In honor of their selfless service, their graves were included in Decoration Day ceremonies alongside the fallen Soldiers and Sailors. Many cities also organized parades, made speeches at the cemeteries, and waved American flags for the holiday.
The act of using flowers for all types of celebrations, commemorations, and for mourning are deep traditions rooted in many cultures. One of these traditions is decorating graves for fallen warriors and can be traced back even during the time of ancient Greece and Rome as signals of high honors to their fallen. Decorative Day, now known as Memorial Day, began during the Civil War where it was customary to have flowers of all types placed on the graves of the soldiers who did not make it through battles. It wasn't so much as the type of flower they placed as much as the sentiment behind the act. In 1971 Memorial Day would become a federal holiday where we honor all fallen soldiers during the last Monday of May. The tradition of placing flowers on the graves of our fallen soldiers who have fought for our freedom still continues, mainly using the colors of our nation, red, white and blue.
A similar ceremony takes place in thousands of cemeteries and at other gatherings nationwide. The practice of decorating the graves of fallen service members continues. It is an opportunity for Americans to honor those who made the ultimate sacrifice.
Memorial Day was first called Decoration Day. It was a day set aside for us to honor those who died preserving the Union in the Civil War. It was called Decoration Day for the act of decorating the graves of dead soldiers with flowers. On May 5, 1868 General John Logan, National Commander of the Grand Army of the Republic, officially proclaimed Decoration Day, in his General Order No. 11. It was first observed on May 30, 1868. General Order No. 11 went on to state that: "We are organized, comrades, as our regulations tell us, for the purpose among other things, "of preserving and strengthening those kind and fraternal feelings which have bound together the soldiers, sailors and marines who united to suppress the late rebellion." What can aid more to assure this result than cherishing tenderly the memory of our heroic dead, who made their breasts a barricade between our country and its foe. Their soldier lives were the reveille of freedom to a race in chains, and their deaths the tattoo of rebellious tyranny in arms. We should guard their graves with sacred vigilance. All that the consecrated wealth and taste of the nation can add to their adornment and security is but a fitting tribute to the memory of her slain defenders. Let no wanton foot tread rudely on such hallowed grounds. Let pleasant paths invite the coming and going of reverent visitors and fond mourners. Let no vandalism of avarice or neglect, no ravages of time to the present or to the coming generations that we have forgotten as a people the cost of a free and undivided Republic."
American Legion Newton Post 111 will honor fallen servicemembers at the Newton Union Cemetery at 10 a.m. May 30. Mariannette Miller-Meeks, the U.S. representative for Iowa's 2nd Congressional District, will be the featured speaker. In the case of inclement weather, the event will be held at American Legion Newton Post 111.
Resthaven Cemetery will hold a memorial event for fallen soldiers at 11 a.m. May 30. The event will take place by the cemetery's pond at 801 19th St. in West Des Moines. Lawn chairs are recommended for this event.
The Museum of Ventura County wishes this Memorial Day to honor service men and women who have died in service to their country. It is unclear where exactly the tradition of decorating graves of fallen soldiers originated; numerous different communities may have independently initiated the memorial gatherings. Records show that one of the earliest Memorial Day commemorations was organized by a group of freed slaves in Charleston, South Carolina less than a month after the Confederacy surrendered in 1865. 2b1af7f3a8