The Meaning of Memorial Day

Holidays | | May 23, 2007 at 02:51

memday.jpgMemorial Day was originally called "Decoration Day" and was officially declared on May 5, 1868 as a day of remembrance for those who had died in service to our country.

If your American history is foggy, 1868 was just 3 years after the Civil War. Gen. John Logan, who was the Commander of the Grand Army of the Republic (the Yankee North) observed the first ceremony on May 30 by placing flowers on the graves of both Union (Northern) and Confederate (Southern) soldiers at Arlington National Cemetery. Over time the observance of Memorial Day passed from May 30 to the last Monday in May, so that a three day weekend could be created.

There is a movement to return the holiday to the original fixed date, although it seems unlikely to succeed. With Christmas, New Year and 4th of July falling on any day of the week, it seems more popular to guarantee the traditional long first weekend of summer, just as we have Labor Day for the last. memorialday.jpgMost Americans have lost sight of the original intent of the day, which was to honor the fallen in battle (or similar service), and consider the day a time to honor all those who have passed away (or passed on) depending on your philosophical bent.) Thus the custom of placing flowers on the graves of family and friends evolved. Of course, it can be argued that not many observe the day in any form of remembrance at all. It is a time spent boating, watching TV, BBQing with family and friends and generally heralding in the more relaxed and casual days of summer.