Memorial Day is a three-day holiday in the United States of America, which takes place on the last Monday of May, every year. The citizens observe the holiday to honor their brave men and women who lost their lives while on military duty.
The holiday was initially baptized Decoration Day. It started in the years after the Civil War. In 1971, the federal government declared it an official holiday. While Memorial Day is a fun holiday, Americans mark this day by participating in parades, visiting memorials, and cemeteries. The holiday also marks the dawn of the summer season.
Early Observances of the Holiday
The Memorial Day traces its roots to the time of the Civil War, which ended in 1865. The war claimed more lives compared to any other war in America. It was during this time that the country established its first national cemeteries. As early as the late 1860s, citizens in various parts of the U.S. started to honor their fallen soldiers by reciting prayers and decorating their graves. Since its official launch as a national holiday, the country has been observing a moment of remembrance of the Memorial Day, which happens at 3.00 P.M. local time.
Where Is the Origin of Memorial Day?
It is still not clear where exactly the activity originated. Somehow, various communities may have just decided to initiate the memorial gatherings independently. However, in 1966, the federal government announced that Memorial Day originated from Waterloo, New York.
The government settled on Waterloo because of its consistent observation of the holiday since May 5, 1866. Every year, the town organizes a community-wide event in which residents close their businesses and participate in decorating the graves of fallen soldiers with flags and flowers.
General John A. Logan, the then leader of a spearheading organization for the veterans of the Northern Civil War, announced a nationwide day of remembrance in late May 1868. This became the Decoration Day, in which the community would use flowers and other materials to decorate the graves of the fallen soldiers. The Decoration Day was not an anniversary of any specific war.
The first celebration of the Decoration Day attracted more than 5000 participants from various communities. The event left more than 20,000 graves of both Union and Confederate soldiers decorated.
Traditions of the Memorial Day
Since its official launch, cities, towns, and communities in the U.S. commemorate the day each year by taking part in the parades. They also involve military officers and members of veterans’ organizations. Major parades often take place in Washington, DC, Chicago, and New York.
Americans commemorate the day by visiting memorial parks and cemeteries. Besides, Memorial Day is a fun holiday, in which many people in the U.S. organize parties and barbecues during the holiday, usually to celebrate the arrival of summer.
Importantly, Memorial Day is a day of remembrance for all the fallen soldieries in the American armed forces. While for many people it could easily pass as any other holiday, the historical background of the holiday means much more than simply a three-day weekend.