A United States federal holiday, observed on the last Monday of May, Memorial Day commemorates U.S. Service Members who died while in the military service. The first known observance of Memorial Day was in Charleston, South Carolina in 1865 when it was known then as “Decoration Day.” The name change to “Memorial Day”, was first used in 1882 but, it did not become more common until after World War II, and was not declared the official name by Federal law until 1967.
Ever wonder how conveniently Memorial Day falls on a Monday? Congress passed the Uniform Holidays Bill, on June 28, 1968, which moved three holidays from their traditional dates to a specified Monday in order to create a convenient three-day weekend. Ahhh, there you have it, our government at work. The holidays included Washington’s Birthday, Veterans Day and Memorial Day. The official change took place in 1971 moving Memorial Day from its original May 30 date to the last Monday in May. The Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW) and Sons of Union Veterans of the Civil War (SUVCW) advocate returning to the original date. In 2002 the VFW stated in a Memorial Day Address: “Changing the date merely to create three-day weekends has undermined the very meaning of the day. No doubt, this has contributed a lot to the general public’s nonchalant observance of Memorial Day.” I agree. They made it more convenient for all of us, but has it become just another day to be grateful for being away from the office?
Sadly, it appears that the observance of Memorial day is diminishing over the years. Many Americans have forgotten the real meaning and traditions of this day. At many cemeteries, the graves of the fallen are increasingly becoming ignored and neglected. Most people no longer remember the proper flag etiquette, flying the flag at half-staff until noon, and taking a moment to participate in a “National Moment of Remembrance” at 3:00pm, where you are to pause and think upon the true meaning of the day. There are still towns and cities that hold Memorial Day parades, but many have not held a parade in decades. Some people think the day is for honoring any and all dead, and not just for those who have fallen in service to our country.
There is only one “official” day our country takes to honor those who died in war. One day. Treat this Memorial Day as it was intended. Remember those people – ancestors, friends, family, neighbors…. Remember those that served our nation and made the ultimate sacrifice. Honor not the war, but those that made our country what it is today….safe and free.
Thank you, Men and Women of the Armed Forces.