A Day to Honor the Fallen
Memorial Day, the annual federal holiday set aside to honor those who gave their lives in the service of the United States Armed Forces. Originally called Decoration Day, the holiday became and American tradition three years after the Civil War ended.
In 1868, General John Logan, Commander in Chief of the Grand Army of the Republic and leader of an organization of northern Civil War veterans, proposed a day of remembrance for veterans. He wrote, “The 30th of May, 1868, is designated for the purpose of strewing with flowers or otherwise decorating the graves of comrades who died in defense of their country.”
One hundred years later, in 1968, with the passing of the Uniform Monday Holiday Act of Congress, Memorial Day was established as the last Monday in May in order to create a three-day weekend for federal employees and in 1971 Memorial Day became an official federal holiday.
Waterloo, New York is the official birthplace of Memorial Day. According to History.com, President Lyndon Johnson signed legislation, later passed by Congress declaring Waterloo the birthplace of Memorial Day.
Formalities observed on this holiday include the raising and lowering of the U.S.Flag, placed at half-staff until noon, then raised to the top of the pole and taken down at dusk, using all appropriate protocols. UsFlag.com declares protocol. Ceremonies and parades to commemorate the fallen are held across America. The President or his/her chosen representative lays a wreath at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier in Arlington National Cemetery. It is one of the times of the year set aside for dedications, special events, parades and ceremonies of veterans groups, such as the VFW and American Legion.
The Red Poppy
Artificial red flowers, poppies are a tradition on Memorial Day. The “poppy” flower adorned the battle fields of WWI and was looked upon by those serving as a living symbol of their fallen comrades sacrifices. In 1920, the poppy became the official flower of the American Legion.
Patriotism, devotion to one’s country encompasses loyalty, allegiance and for some, the will to defend one’s country. Millions of Americans have given of themselves in defense of the nation and many have perished. Memorial Day is a holiday set aside to honor all veterans who have and continue to enable Americans to enjoy living in a country that is not war-torn, not victim to absolute rule or tyranny or occupied under foreign control with freedoms as set forth in the Constitution.
This Memorial Day, celebrate being American and remember those who have made the dream of liberty possible though sacrifice.