Memorial Day was originally called “Decoration Day.” It was started in 1868 by General John A. Logan for the purpose of decorating the graves of Civil War veterans. Within twenty years, it was changed to Memorial Day in which all war dead are commemorated. It became a federal holiday in 1971 and moved from May 30th to the last Monday in May. Often we do not observe the day as we should -- a day where we actively remember our ancestors, family members, loved ones, neighbors, and friends who have given the ultimate sacrifice.
Here is an exception: Since the late 50's on the Thursday before Memorial Day, the 1,200 soldiers of the 3rd U.S. Infantry place small American flags at each of the more than 260,000 gravestones at Arlington National Cemetery. They patrol 24 hours a day during the weekend to ensure that each flag remains standing.
In addition, the “National Moment of Remembrance” resolution was passed in Dec 2000 to help re-educate and remind us of the true meaning of Memorial Day. It asks that at 3 p.m. local time, all Americans to voluntarily and informally observe in their own way a moment of remembrance and respect, pausing from whatever they doing for a moment of silence and listen to Taps.
Here are more ways we can honor our loved ones, our ancestors, our friends who died in conflicts and wars:
- visit cemeteries and place flags or flowers on the graves of our fallen heroes
- visit memorials
- fly the U.S. Flag at half-staff until noon
- fly the POW/MIA Flag
- participate in the National Moment of Remembrance at 3 p.m.