History of Memorial Day
Though the decorating the graves of loved-ones, soldiers, and the forgotten, has been observed for thousands of years all around the globe, the history of Memorial Day indisputably come from the South’s Decoration Day. Credit for its origins partially lie with more than a dozen individuals and communities. Even before the Civil War, the Southern U.S. held a grassroots custom, or tradition, each spring as an event in many public and private circles to honor their deceased loved ones at their final resting places. Wikipedia states that it is believed that the Decoration Day tradition “began before the American Civil War and thus may reflect the real origin of the ‘Memorial Day’ idea.”
Driven by the strong feelings that divided our nation, and promoted by a few key individuals, Decoration Day began to draw a much larger following. It evolved to focus mainly on the graves of their Civil War dead. Sentiments in our country were strong, and in those few years, there began such a groundswell of support on a national level, that it was officially designated by General John A. Logan in May 1866 as an annual event that our nation should observe. The first national celebration of Decoration Day took place May 30, 1868, at Arlington National Cemetery, where both Confederate and Union soldiers were buried. Shortly thereafter, some Americans, including high officials in the U.S. Government, began to refer to it as Memorial Day. Thus, starting the history of Memorial Day. Its focus, though, still lingered on the Civil War. The U.S. Dept. of Veterans Affairs states, “By the end of the 19th century, Memorial Day ceremonies were being held on May 30 throughout the nation.”
After WWI, the federal government went further and declared the last Monday in May to be called Memorial Day as a day of prayer and to honor all Americans who have died in military service for the United States and to decorate their graves. The most recent official acts came in 1968 and in 1971 when Congress declared Memorial Day a National Holiday to be observed on the last Monday in May.
Besides cleaning up graves and placing flowers at the tombstones, many Americans also make it a point to take the children or grandchildren along and visit war memorials and attend Memorial Day parades and other community gatherings as part of their observance.
The tradition of decorating graves and flying the flag on Memorial Day has become a respected part of the fabric of America. We at Nursery Enterprises would also like to express our love and appreciation to those whose tremendous sacrifices while serving to protect our great nation allow us to live the fruits of freedom and liberty.
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