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THE HISTORY OF MEMORIAL DAYMemorial Day is observed on the last Monday of May.  This federal holiday was formally known as “Decoration Day” and commemorates all men and women, who have died in military service for the United States. Many people visit cemeteries and memorials on Memorial Day and it is traditionally seen as the start of the summer season.

Memorial Day Background

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.

Appreciation the Sacrifice of Others this Memorial Day

It is traditional to fly the flag of the United States at half mast 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.

Although Memorial Day has become less of an occasion of remembrance of those who died to protect our country, it is our hope that everyone reading this will take a moment to reflect on the sacrifices made.  One way to honor these men and women is to take advantage of volunteer opportunities that help strengthen our nation through advocacy, education and just plain leg work.  Let’s leave a legacy that our children and grandchildren will be proud to remember.

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