Memorial Day.


 

By Jueseppi B.

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Memorial Day is a US federal holiday wherein the men and women who died while serving in the United States Armed Forces are remembered. The holiday, which is celebrated every year on the final Monday of May, was formerly known as Decoration Day and originated after the American Civil War to commemorate the Union and Confederate soldiers who died in the Civil War. By the 20th century, Memorial Day had been extended to honor all Americans who have died while in the military service. It typically marks the start of the summer vacation season, while Labor Day marks its end.

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.

Annual Decoration Days for particular cemeteries are held on a Sunday in late spring or early summer in some rural areas of the American South, notably in the mountains. In cases involving a family graveyard where remote ancestors as well as those who were deceased more recently are buried, this may take on the character of an extended family reunion to which some people travel hundreds of miles. People gather on the designated day and put flowers on graves and renew contacts with kinfolk and others. There often is a religious service and a “dinner on the ground,” the traditional term for a potluck meal in which people used to spread the dishes out on sheets or tablecloths on the grass. It is believed that this practice began before the American Civil War and thus may reflect the real origin of the “memorial day” idea.

Memorial Day is not to be confused with Veterans Day; Memorial Day is a day of remembering the men and women who died while serving, while Veterans Day celebrates the service of all U.S. military veterans.

 

Wes Moore: How to talk to veterans about the war

 

Published on May 23, 2014

Wes Moore joined the US Army to pay for college, but the experience became core to who he is. In this heartfelt talk, the paratrooper and captain—who went on to write “The Other Wes Moore”—explains the shock of returning home from Afghanistan. He shares the single phrase he heard from civilians on repeat, and shows why it’s just not sufficient. It’s a call for all of us to ask veterans to tell their stories — and listen.

 

 

 

Memorial Day
Graves at Arlington on Memorial Day.JPG

The gravestones at Arlington National Cemetery
are decorated by U.S. flags on Memorial Day
weekend.
Observed by United States
Type National
Observances Remembrance of American

war dead

Date Last Monday in May
2013 date May 27
2014 date May 26
2015 date May 25
2016 date May 30
Frequency annual

 

 

History of the holiday

The practice of decorating soldiers’ graves with flowers is an ancient custom. Soldiers’ graves were decorated in the U.S. before and during the American Civil War. A claim was made in 1906 that the first Civil War soldier’s grave ever decorated was in Warrenton, Virginia, on June 3, 1861, implying the first Memorial Day occurred there. Though not for Union soldiers, there is authentic documentation that women in Savannah, Georgia, decorated Confederate soldiers’ graves in 1862. In 1863, the cemetery dedication at Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, was a ceremony of commemoration at the graves of dead soldiers. Local historians in Boalsburg, Pennsylvania, claim that ladies there decorated soldiers’ graves on July 4, 1864. As a result, Boalsburg promotes itself as the birthplace of Memorial Day.

Following President Abraham Lincoln’s assassination in April 1865, there were a variety of events of commemoration. The sheer number of soldiers of both sides who died in the Civil War, more than 600,000, meant that burial and memorialization took on new cultural significance. Under the leadership of women during the war, an increasingly formal practice of decorating graves had taken shape. In 1865, the federal government began creating national military cemeteries for the Union war dead.

The first widely publicized observance of a Memorial Day-type observance after the Civil War was in Charleston, South Carolina, on May 1, 1865. During the war, Union soldiers who were prisoners of war had been held at the Charleston Race Course; at least 257 Union prisoners died there and were hastily buried in unmarked graves. Together with teachers and missionaries, black residents of Charleston organized a May Day ceremony in 1865, which was covered by the New York Tribune and other national papers.

The freedmen cleaned up and landscaped the burial ground, building an enclosure and an arch labeled, “Martyrs of the Race Course.” Nearly ten thousand people, mostly freedmen, gathered on May 1 to commemorate the war dead. Involved were about 3,000 school children newly enrolled in freedmen’s schools, mutual aid societies, Union troops, black ministers, and white northern missionaries. Most brought flowers to lay on the burial field. Today the site is used as Hampton Park. Years later, the celebration would come to be called the “First Decoration Day” in the North.

David W. Blight described the day:

“This was the first Memorial Day. African Americans invented Memorial Day in Charleston, South Carolina. What you have there is black Americans recently freed from slavery announcing to the world with their flowers, their feet, and their songs what the war had been about. What they basically were creating was the Independence Day of a Second American Revolution.”However, Blight stated he “has no evidence” that this event in Charleston inspired the establishment of Memorial Day across the country.

However, Blight stated he “has no evidence” that this event in Charleston inspired the establishment of Memorial Day across the country.

On May 26, 1966, President Johnson signed a presidential proclamation naming Waterloo, New York, as the birthplace of Memorial Day. Earlier, the 89th Congress adopted House Concurrent Resolution 587, which officially recognized that the patriotic tradition of observing Memorial Day began one hundred years prior in Waterloo, New York. According to legend, in the summer of 1865 a local druggist Henry Welles, while talking to friends, suggested that it might be good to remember those soldiers who did not make it home from the Civil War.

Not much came of it until he mentioned it to General John B. Murray, a Civil War hero, who gathered support from other surviving veterans. On May 5, 1866, they marched to the three local cemeteries and decorated the graves of fallen soldiers. It is believed that Murray, who knew General Logan, told Logan about the observance and that led to Logan issuing Logan’s Order in 1868 calling for a national observance.

 

The Tomb of the Unknowns located in Arlington National Cemetery

The Tomb of the Unknowns located in Arlington National Cemetery

Confederate Memorial Monument in Montgomery, Alabama

Confederate Memorial Monument in Montgomery, Alabama

Soldiers National Monument at the center of Gettysburg National Cemetery

Soldiers National Monument at the center of Gettysburg National Cemetery

 

Name and date

The preferred name for the holiday gradually changed from “Decoration Day” to “Memorial Day”, which was first used in 1882. It did not become more common until after World War II, and was not declared the official name by Federal law until 1967. On June 28, 1968, the Congress passed the Uniform Monday Holiday Act, which moved four holidays, including Memorial Day, from their traditional dates to a specified Monday in order to create a convenient three-day weekend. The change moved Memorial Day from its traditional May 30 date to the last Monday in May. The law took effect at the federal level in 1971. After some initial confusion and unwillingness to comply, all 50 states adopted Congress’ change of date within a few years.

Memorial Day endures as a holiday which most businesses observe because it marks the unofficial beginning of summer. The Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW) and Sons of Union Veterans of the Civil War (SUVCW) advocate returning to the original date, although the significance of the date is tenuous. The VFW stated in a 2002 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.

 

Starting in 1987 Hawaii‘s Senator Daniel Inouye, a World War II veteran, introduced a measure to return Memorial Day to its traditional date. Inouye continued introducing the resolution until his death in 2012.

 

 

Traditional observance

On Memorial Day, the flag of the United States is raised briskly to the top of the staff and then solemnly lowered to the half-staff position, where it remains only until noon. It is then raised to full-staff for the remainder of the day

 

The half-staff position remembers the more than one million men and women who gave their lives in service of their country. At noon, their memory is raised by the living, who resolve not to let their sacrifice be in vain, but to rise up in their stead and continue the fight for liberty and justice for all.

The National Memorial Day Concert takes place on the west lawn of the United States Capitol. The concert is broadcast on PBS and NPR. Music is performed, and respect is paid to the men and women who gave their lives for their country.

For many Americans, the central event is attending one of the thousands of parades held on Memorial Day in large and small cities all over the country. Most of these feature marching bands and an overall military theme with the National Guard and other servicemen participating along with veterans and military vehicles from various wars.

One of the longest-standing traditions is the running of the Indianapolis 500, an auto race which has been held in conjunction with Memorial Day since 1911. It runs on the Sunday preceding the Memorial Day holiday. The Coca-Cola 600 stock car race has been held later the same day since 1961. The Memorial Tournament golf event has been held on or close to the Memorial Day weekend since 1976.

 

 

KNOW YOUR HISTORY: Memorial Day was started by former slaves on May, 1, 1865

 

Memorial Day 2013- African Americans in World War I and II

 

This Memorial Day Remember We’ve Been Screwing Veterans Over for at Least a Century

 

Holocaust Remembrance Memorial Day-70 years ago was the Warsaw ghetto uprising

 

While You Celebrate The Military This Memorial Day, Don’t Forget The Unjustly Imprisoned: Free The IRP6

 

 

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23 Responses

  1. Reblogged this on idealisticrebel and commented:
    For their bravery.

  2. […] Originally posted on The ObamaCrat™: […]

  3. Reblogged this on It Is What It Is and commented:
    Awesome piece!! Reblog ….. History lesson!!

    • Good morning my sister, thank you for this reblog and I am sending wishes to you for a fun & safe Holiday Weekend

      • Thank YOU!! Take care ….

      • ;-) :mrgreen:

      • Luv you, my brother!!!

      • I did something to get myself kicked out of the LGBT group i joined with you. That puzzles me because all I did was post things to the group that were connected to the LGBTQA1 community.

        Oh well, their loss.

      • GM, my brother!! You’re right, their loss. Do you know why or what happened?
        All in all, I’m getting tired of the group thing! In all aspects. Seems that the group mentality doesn’t work anymore …. It’s all “me”. It’s all power, I’m the owner, I’m the admin, etc., etc.
        it’s sad bc we, being social as humans, have no other option but decide to be on our own.
        Hold on tight to those precious few … who are real, who are genuine and who care for you.
        I hope you know I’m one of them. For me, this reality is sad ….. We are losing connections! We are missing out on so many basic human experiences.
        Mind you, I’m talking more that a FB group now …. I’m talking in general …. humanity.
        But then again … It is what it is!
        Big hugs, dear friend ….. I’m here!

      • Maybe the group admins don’t appreciate my name, which is shown whenever I post in the group. I have no other reason as to why I was removed. Infighting is common among humans it seems. Don’t sweat it sis, better I am removed from group than to be associated with a group that is petty.

      • Agree!!

      • By the way, I’m leaving that group when I get back home. It doesn’t deserve us!

      • No, don’t you leave the group over my being removed, I was just shocked/surprised that I was removed because I never commented in the group, just posted things relevant to the group topic. It’s no biggie, certainly not worth you leaving. 8-)

  4. !!!**In Loving Memory Of Our Veterans Who Gave It All To Our Nation**!!! …

  5. Thank you for the Wes Moore, TED Talk. I had never considered things in this light, never thought of the ‘asking’ because someone only be waiting to talk, to be asked. We are so stupid sometimes with our ‘correctness’ and our inability to properly communicate with our fellow human beings.

    Someone truly should bulldoze the Confederate Soldiers memorial to the ground. Is that wrong of me?

    As always My, you pull information together and present it in meaningful and easy to read and hear ways. Thank you.

    • Confederate Soldiers died fighting for what they believed and keep in mind the year this Civil War went down, many more believed as did those Confederate Soldiers. They deserve a monument just as the Union Army does, and believe you me this….Union Army was just as racist. Remember the film Glory. Good morning, I have so much work to do/steal/post this Saturday morning.

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