The History of the Memorial Holiday

Written by Caitlynn Woods (Features Writer)

Memorial Day is the celebration and mourning of the individuals who have died serving their duties in the United States military. All wars that America has fought in are included, such as World War I, World War II, The Vietnam War, The Korean War, the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, and more.

Memorial Day was once celebrated on May 30th each year, however in 1968, Congress made the decision to move Memorial Day to the last Monday of May; this took effect a few years later, in 1971. In turn, this gives federal employees a three-day weekend that we now call “Memorial Day weekend”. In 2021, Memorial Day will be celebrated on Monday, May 31st and it has always only occurred in America.

The earlier version of Memorial Day was called Decoration Day. Decoration Day got its name because of the tradition where on May 30th of every year, families would go to decorate the graves of the loved ones they had lost to war.  It is portrayed that John A. Logan of the Grand Army was the inventor of Decoration Day, but his ideas actually originated from the practices of women who would put flowers on their husbands’ graves after losing them in battle. As well as that, the idea of Decoration Day also originated from the slaves who honored those who died fighting for their rights in the Civil War. Women and black people were discredited for the origination of this holiday.

There have actually been many groups of people who have honored those who died in wars before the United States, they only do not call it by the same name. Celebrating those who have fallen in battle has dated back thousands of years, the ancient Greeks and Romans held a few days per year to place flowers on the graves of loved ones (especially soldiers) and feast in honor of the dead.

Some of the custom Memorial Day traditions that America practices today include parades that support certain military personnel or members of veteran’s organizations. Many of the larger parades occur in Washington D.C, New York, and Chicago. However, a lot of individuals don’t attend parades, but still celebrate Memorial Day in much more simple ways like taking weekend trips, attending/throwing barbeques, or attending/throwing parties to celebrate those who have died for our country.

Some of the things not to do on Memorial Day would be wishing somebody a “Happy Memorial Day”, this holiday is for grieving and honoring the dead. Disregarding its importance is disrespectful as well considering every soldier who died in battle or from battle wounds fought for a cause, and there has to have been at least one important cause to you personally.

In accordance with the bad things to do or say on Memorial Day, something positive that you could say is, “thank you for serving our country,” to the military personnel who are still alive. Some of the things you can do to show your appreciation would be remembering the individuals who gave their lives for America, counting blessings, volunteering for veteran associations, and partaking in the usual traditions of Memorial Day.

It is important that we as a community honor the people who have died while serving this country as they sacrificed their lives to protect America and its freedom. Although the rights and freedom of many minorities are still fairly recent, it is important to honor the individuals who fought for the rights of those minorities, therefore, despite your political views, Memorial Day is still worth celebrating.

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