Memorandum for the Heads of Exec Depts and Agencies Subject: White House Program for the National Moment of Remembrance 3 May 2000 As Memorial Day approaches, it is time to pause and consider the true meaning of this holiday. Memorial Day represents one day of national awareness and reverence, honoring those Americans who died while …
When is Memorial Day?
- It is on the last Monday in May.
- Memorial Day is on May 25, 2015.
Who do we honor on Memorial Day?
- We honor soldiers who died while serving their country.
- We also honor soldiers who are currently serving in the armed services like the Army, Navy, Marines, Air Force, and the Coast Guard.
Three years after the Civil War ended, on May 5, 1868, the head of an organization of Union veterans the Grand Army of the Republic (GAR) established Decoration Day as a time for the nation to decorate the graves of the war dead with flowers. Maj. Gen. John A. Logan declared that Decoration Day should be observed on May 30. It is believed that date was chosen because flowers would be in bloom all over the country.
The first large observance was held that year at Arlington National Cemetery, across the Potomac River from Washington, D.C.
Originally called Decoration Day, from the early tradition of decorating graves with flowers, wreaths and flags, Memorial Day is a day for remembrance of those who have died in service to our country. It was first widely observed on May 30, 1868 to commemorate the sacrifices of Civil War soldiers, by proclamation of Gen. John A. Logan of the Grand Army of the Republic, an organization of former Union sailors and soldiers.
During that first national celebration, former Union Gen. and sitting Ohio Congressman James Garfield made a speech at Arlington National Cemetery, after which 5,000 participants helped to decorate the graves of the more than 20,000 Union and Confederate soldiers who were buried there.
On a spring day in 1865, Waterloo, NY druggist Henry C. Welles watched as a lone widow walked to the cemetery to place flowers on the grave of her deceased Civil War soldier husband. How soon they forget, Welles thought, resolving to do something to make sure that those who gave their lives in defense of their country would not be forgotten. Working with Gen. John B. Murray, Welles planned the first Memorial Day in Waterloo in 1866, and for 150 consecutive years, Waterloo’s citizens have remembered. With parades, prayers and ceremonies.
On May 26, 1966, that consistency inspired President Lyndon Johnson to sign a Presidential Proclamation recognizing Waterloo as the official Birthplace of Memorial Day.
Technically, summer doesn t start until June 20. But many people consider Memorial Day to be the unofficial start of the season. This year, we celebrate the holiday on May 30. Many families will heat up the grill, head to the beach or take in a big blockbuster movie. But Memorial Day has the word memorial in it for a reason.
It is customary to mark Memorial Day by visiting graveyards and war monuments. One of the biggest Memorial Day traditions is for the President or Vice President to give a speech and lay a wreath on soldiers graves in the largest national cemetery, Arlington National Cemetery, in Virginia. Most towns have local Memorial Day celebrations. Here are some ways you can honor the men and women who serve our country:
This U.S. Federal holiday is celebrated the last Monday of each May to honor the men and women who died while serving in the military.
The custom of honoring ancestors by cleaning cemeteries and decorating graves is an ancient and worldwide tradition, but the specific origin of Memorial Day, or Decoration Day as it was first known, are unclear.