Today! Enjoy Memorial Day
Memorial Day is an American holiday, observed on the last Monday of May, honoring the men and women who died while serving in the U.S. military. Memorial Day 2018 occurs on Monday, May 28. Originally known as Decoration Day, it originated in the years following the Civil War and became an official federal holiday in 1971. Many Americans observe Memorial Day by visiting cemeteries or memorials, holding family gatherings and participating in parades. Unofficially, it marks the beginning of the summer season.
History of Memorial Day
Memorial Day, as Decoration Day gradually came to be known, originally honored only those lost while fighting in the Civil War. But during World War I the United States found itself embroiled in another major conflict, and the holiday evolved to commemorate American military personnel who died in all wars.
For decades, Memorial Day continued to be observed on May 30, the date Logan had selected for the first Decoration Day. But in 1968 Congress passed the Uniform Monday Holiday Act, which established Memorial Day as the last Monday in May in order to create a three-day weekend for federal employees; the change went into effect in 1971. The same law also declared Memorial Day a federal holiday.
Early Observances of Memorial Day
The Civil War, which ended in the spring of 1865, claimed more lives than any conflict in U.S. history and required the establishment of the country’s first national cemeteries.
By the late 1860s, Americans in various towns and cities had begun holding springtime tributes to these countless fallen soldiers, decorating their graves with flowers and reciting prayers.
Did You Know?
Each year on Memorial Day a national moment of remembrance takes place at 3:00 p.m. local time.
It is unclear where exactly this tradition originated; numerous different communities may have independently initiated the memorial gatherings. Nevertheless, in 1966 the federal government declared Waterloo, New York, the official birthplace of Memorial Day.
Waterloo—which first celebrated the day on May 5, 1866—was chosen because it hosted an annual, community-wide event, during which businesses closed and residents decorated the graves of soldiers with flowers and flags.
On May 5, 1868, General John A. Logan, leader of an organization for Northern Civil War veterans, called for a nationwide day of remembrance later that month. “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 during the late rebellion, and whose bodies now lie in almost every city, village and hamlet churchyard in the land,” he proclaimed.
The date of Decoration Day, as he called it, was chosen because it wasn’t the anniversary of any particular battle.
On the first Decoration Day, General James Garfield made a speech at Arlington National Cemetery, and 5,000 participants decorated the graves of the 20,000 Union and Confederate soldiers buried there.
Many Northern states held similar commemorative events and reprised the tradition in subsequent years; by 1890 each one had made Decoration Day an official state holiday. Southern states, on the other hand, continued to honor their dead on separate days until after World War I.
Memorial Day Traditions
Cities and towns across the United States host Memorial Day parades each year, often incorporating military personnel and members of veterans’ organizations. Some of the largest parades take place in Chicago, New York and Washington, D.C.
Americans also observe Memorial Day by visiting cemeteries and memorials. On a less somber note, many people take weekend trips or throw parties and barbecues on the holiday, perhaps because it unofficially marks the beginning of summer.
What Do People Do?
It is traditional to fly the flag of the United States at half staff from dawn until noon. Many people visit cemeteries and memorials, particularly to honor those who have died in military service. Many volunteers place an American flag on each grave in national cemeteries. Memorial Day is combined with Jefferson Davis’ Birthday in Mississippi.
Memorial Day has become less of an occasion of remembrance. Many people choose to hold picnics, sports events and family gatherings on this weekend. This day is traditionally seen as the start of the summer season for cultural events. For the fashion conscious, it is seen as acceptable to wear white clothing, particularly shoes from Memorial Day until Labor Day. However, fewer and fewer people follow this rule and many wear white clothing throughout the year.
Memorial Day started as an event to honor Union soldiers who had died during the American Civil War. It was inspired by the way people in the Southern states honored their dead. After World War I, it was extended to include all men and women who died in any war or military action.
Memorial Day was originally known as Decoration Day. The current name for this day did not come into use until after World War II. Decoration Day and then Memorial Day used to be held on May 30, regardless of the day of the week, on which it fell. In 1968, the Uniform Holidays Bill was passed as part of a move to use federal holidays to create three-day weekends. This meant that that, from 1971, Memorial Day holiday has been officially observed on the last Monday in May. However, it took a longer period for all American states to recognize the new date.
Why do we Celebrate Memorial Day?
- Memorial Day is a day to honor and remember all of the men and women who died fighting for our country. These men and women dedicated their lives so we can be a free nation.
- Memorial Day is not the same as Veteran’s Day. Veteran’s Day is a day to honor all of the men and women who have served in the US armed forces.
- Memorial Day is celebrated on the last Monday in May.
- Having a day to honor the soldiers who lost their lives started after the Civil War (1861-1865)
- The original name was Decoration Day.
- Decoration Day was started on May 5th 1868 by General John A Logan commander of the Grand Army of the Republic head of the Organization of Union Veterans to honor union soldiers who died in the Civil War
- It was called Decoration Day because family members of fallen soldiers decorated the their graves with flowers.
- May 30th 1868 was the first service to honor fallen soldiers at Arlington National Cemetery President Ulysses S. Grant was present and General James Garfield gave a speech.
- Decoration Day originally only honored the soldiers who died in the Civil War. After World War I it was changed to all soldiers who lost their lives in war.
- On May 11 1950 Decoration Day was changed to Memorial Day.
- I971 President Richard Nixon declared Memorial Day a federal holiday.
- In 1966 congress along with President Lyndon Johnson declared Waterloo New York the birthplace of Memorial Day.
- The official flower of Memorial Day are red poppies.
- People celebrate Memorial Day by placing flowers on soldier’s graves, fly flags at half-staff, attending parades and remembering soldiers who lost their lives .
- Schools, Post Office, most Banks and other businesses are closed on Memorial Day.
- Memorial Day is known as the official start of the summer season.
5 Ways to Celebrate Memorial Day:-
ATTEND A MEMORIAL DAY EVENT
Many towns and cities across the US offer parades and events to recognize Memorial Day—often concluding with a moment of silence or a memorial service. These are excellent community events and are perfect for the whole family, combining excitement, education, and the outdoors.
PLAN A FAMILY BBQ
Traditionally seen as the unofficial kick-off to summer, Memorial Day is an excellent time to get family and friends together to share stories of the past, exchange gratitude, and enjoy a delicious meal together.
Get everyone together! It’s the perfect opportunity to catch up with the friends and relatives you’ve been meaning to see. You can even find a local park or beach with BBQ facilities and bring the party there for more space.
Check out our 4 No-Cook Meal Ideas for Summer blog for simple dishes to compliment the main event: grilled goodies. The best part? Everything can be prepared without the oven or hours in the kitchen.
DECORATE WITH FLAGS
Memorial Day is an excellent time to wave our red, white, and blue with true pride! Let the kids join in the fun and hang flags from the house and on the lawn. There’s never been a better time to embrace your patriotism—and your yard will look fabulous in stripes and stars!
If you have a flagpole, consider joining others in the country by lowering the flag half-mast from dawn until noon (local time) as a sign of respect.
Whether it’s a friend who needs a hand, an elderly neighbor, or a community soup kitchen, volunteering is a great way to pay it forward in a positive way that echoes the spirit of Memorial Day. Take it upon yourself to do something selfless, just as the many men and women we celebrate on Memorial Day did.
For ideas on how you can volunteer or get involved with your local community, check out this blog post and get inspired to give back.
ENJOY A CONCERT
There are plenty of shows and concerts to choose from this Memorial Day weekend, but one of our longstanding favorites is, of course, the National Memorial Day Concert. If you can’t be in Washington to celebrate in person, be sure to tune into the televised event on PBS. It’s a truly fantastic event year after year.
TAKE A TRIP
Get away as a family and enjoy a change of scenery this Memorial Day weekend. Whether it be out of state or a simple staycation, the long weekend is the perfect time to reconnect. Take advantage of some (hopefully) fine weather and enjoy a weekend at the cottage, on a hiking trip, or a road trip to visit family.
There are plenty of Exciting Memorial Day Trips Near InTown Suites—featuring everything from beaches to bluegrass.
No matter how you decide to enjoy the Memorial Day weekend, we’re sure you’ll have a blast spending time with family and friends!