27 May 2013

Memorial Day dates back to just after the Civil War

Memorial Day is a day of remembrance for those who have died in our nation's service. Originally called Decoration Day, its exact origins have been blurred over the years. The day itself was officially proclaimed by General John Logan, national commander of the Grand Army of the Republic on 5 May 1868.

It was first observed on 30 May 1868, when flowers were placed on the graves of Union and Confederate soldiers at Arlington National Cemetery. New York was the first state to officially recognize the holiday in 1873. After World War I, the day was expanded to honor those who have died in all American wars. In 1971, Memorial Day was declared a national holiday by an act of Congress and - sadly I might add - placed on the last Monday in May. Moving the day to a Monday like any other federal holiday diminished its true relevance. Memorial Day is - and should be remembered as - a National Day of Mourning.

Memorial Day is not about barbeques and sales at the mall. It is a day when we should remember those who gave their lives in service to the nation. So how should one celebrate Memorial Day? It is suggested that one visits cemeteries and places flags or flowers on the graves of our fallen heroes. Visit memorials and fly  our nation's flag at half-staff until noon. Fly the 'POW/MIA Flag' as well. Participate in a "National Moment of Remembrance": at 3 p.m. to pause and think upon the true meaning of the day. Finally, renew a pledge to aid the widows, widowers, and orphans of our fallen soldiers, and to aid the disabled veterans.

This month Genealogical Gems had been focusing on a different veteran each day in honor of National Military Appreciation Month (NMAM). Although this month is coming to a close, Mondays here are (okay most Mondays!) Military Mondays. It is a blog prompt by GeneaBloggers in which we focus and highlight on a military personnel or something in general military related. I encourage you to visit back here on Mondays, especially if you have enjoyed the NMAM posts.

To all who have served - THANK YOU.
Locations listed are located in Pennsylvania (USA), unless otherwise noted in post.