Well, children, did you remember? Today is the traditional, original “Decoration Day.”
It began at the end of the Civil War, in 1868. Many Southern women had already started putting flowers on graves while the war was still in process, but it spread and became popular in both the North and South. Memorial Day was officially proclaimed on 5 May 1868 by General John Logan, national commander of the Grand Army of the Republic, in his General Order No. 11, and was first observed on 30 May 1868, when flowers were placed on the graves of Union and Confederate soldiers at Arlington National Cemetery. The first state to officially recognize the holiday was New York in 1873. By 1890 it was recognized by all of the northern states.
The South refused to acknowledge the day, honoring their dead on separate days until after World War I (when the holiday changed from honoring just those who died fighting in the Civil War to honoring Americans who died fighting in any war).
It is now celebrated in almost every State on the last Monday in May (passed by Congress with the National Holiday Act of 1971 (P.L. 90 - 363) to ensure a three day weekend for Federal holidays), though several southern states have an additional separate day for honoring the Confederate war dead: January 19 in Texas, April 26 in Alabama, Florida, Georgia, and Mississippi; May 10 in South Carolina; and June 3 (Jefferson Davis' birthday) in Louisiana and Tennessee.
Many of you, I am sure, weren’t even around in 1971 but I remember when the date was changed and was upset then, as I still am, today. I feel that making a three day weekend out of this special time encourages people to forget exactly why we honor this special day. Now most of the media centers on SALE, SALE, SALE! And there are picnics and fun times, but how many truly remember those who have died?
This day is especially for those who have died, even though many, including the Armed Forces, make Memorial Day a time to remember those who have served as well as those who have died.
Be that as it may, let us all take time, no matter when, to remember those who have died for our freedom. Let us take time to thank them for giving the ultimate sacrifice for that which they treasured; treasuring freedom, they made sure that those they loved would be granted that freedom.