ClientWise joins the nation in honoring the sacrifices of our fallen service members and their families. They fought for us, and should be remembered on this Memorial Day, as well as every day of the year.
Origins of Memorial Day
“If our eyes grow dull, other hands slack, and other hearts cold in the solemn trust, ours shall keep it well as long as the light and warmth of life remain to us.”
With these words, Maj. Gen. John A. Logan declared May 30, 1868 as Decoration Day, as a time for the nation to decorate the graves of the Civil War dead with flowers. It is believed that this date was chosen because flowers would be in bloom all over the country.
The first large observance was held that year at Arlington National Cemetery, across the Potomac River from Washington, D.C.
The ceremonies centered on the mourning-draped veranda of the Arlington mansion, once the home of Gen. Robert E. Lee. Various Washington officials, including Gen. and Mrs. Ulysses S. Grant, presided over the ceremonies. After speeches, children from the Soldiers’ and Sailors’ Orphan Home and members of the Grand Army of the Republic made their way through the cemetery, strewing flowers on both Union and Confederate graves, reciting prayers and singing hymns.
By the end of the 19th century, Memorial Day ceremonies were being held on May 30 throughout the nation. State legislatures passed proclamations designating the day, and the Army and Navy adopted regulations for proper observance at their facilities.
It was not until after World War I, however, that the day was expanded to honor those who have died in all American wars. In 1971, Memorial Day was declared a national holiday by an act of Congress, though it is still often called Decoration Day. It was then also placed on the last Monday in May, as were some other federal holidays.
National Moment of Remembrance
To ensure the sacrifices of America ’s fallen heroes are never forgotten, in December 2000, the U.S. Congress passed and the president signed into law “The National Moment of Remembrance Act,” P.L. 106-579, creating the White House Commission on the National Moment of Remembrance. The commission’s charter is to “encourage the people of the United States to give something back to their country, which provides them so much freedom and opportunity” by encouraging and coordinating commemorations in the United States of Memorial Day and the National Moment of Remembrance.
The National Moment of Remembrance encourages all Americans to pause wherever they are at 3 p.m. local time on Memorial Day for a minute of silence to remember and honor those who have died in service to the nation. As Moment of Remembrance founder Carmella LaSpada states: “It’s a way we can all help put the memorial back in Memorial Day.”
Honoring the Fallen
For many Americans, Memorial Day is a welcome break from work, a time for outdoor barbeques or a day at the beach. But this day is also an opportunity for Americans to come together and pay tribute to all those who have fought and died in defense of our freedom. It is a day to reflect on the service and sacrifice of these heroes, and to honor those American families for whom Memorial Day is another day of longing for their loved ones.
For a listing of Memorial Day ceremonies in your area, please check here.
Also, many communities around the nation still need volunteers to assist in flag duty, as is true in this case where a flag garden is being assembled on Boston Common. If you’d like to participate in your community, you may want to check with local organizations.