Memorial Day observed on Monday

Published 10:20 am Friday, May 25, 2018

Monday is Memorial Day, a time set aside as a day of remembrance for those that have died in the service of their country.

According to www.history.com, “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. 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.”

The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs tracked the official history of the day of observance on their website at www.va.gov.

The Department of Veterans Affairs website explains on May 5, 1868, three years after the Civil War ended, the head of the Grand Army of the Republic (GAR) – an organization of Union veterans – established Decoration Day to decorate the graves of the war dead across the nation with flowers.

Maj. Gen. John A. Logan decided May 30 should be declared Decoration Day. The first significant observance was held across the Potomac River from Washington, D.C. at Arlington National Cemetery.

It was not until after World War I that the focus of the observance was expanded to include those who have died in all American wars. An act of Congress declared Memorial Day a nationally recognized event in 1971, though it is still often called Decoration Day.

It was also moved to the last Monday in May along with some other federal holidays at that time. The U.S. Congress passed “The National Moment of Remembrance Act,” and the president signed the act into law in December of 2000. This act brought into being the White House Commission on the National Moment of Remembrance.

The commission’s purpose is to “encourage the people of the United States to give something back to their country, which provides them so much freedom and opportunity” through coordinating and encouraging commemorations Memorial Day and the National Moment of Remembrance.

Memorial Day observance activities include visiting and decorating graves of individuals who lost their lives in the armed forces and visiting memorials dedicated to fallen military personnel.