Memorial Day is Monday, May 30, 2022. It was made a national holiday in the United States in 1971 by an act of Congress and is celebrated annually on the last Monday in May. When people think of Memorial Day, they often associate it with the arrival of summer and barbecues accompanied by hot dogs and hamburgers. While spending time with family and friends over the long weekend is great, and gatherings hold a place in history, Memorial Day is first and foremost of great significance in honoring those who have served and died in all wars to protect our country. It basically commemorates veterans who made the ultimate sacrifice and died honorably so that we can enjoy the freedom and lifestyles we have today.
This important federal holiday commemorates the men and women who have died in the service of the military, especially those who died in combat or as a result of battle. This day is associated with freedom as it is the primary cause of service for many distinguished men and women. We can look up the dictionary definition of courageous: ready to face and endure danger or pain, showing courage. Courage is the ability to do something that is scary, but it is also strength in the face of pain or grief. Wars are ugly. As evidenced by the great wars, including the American Revolution, Civil War, and World War I and World War II, some hard fought on our soil and some not, courage was the cornerstone of service.
Originally called Decoration Day, Memorial Day came about after the ancient tradition of decorating graves with flowers, wreaths and flags took hold. It was first widely observed on May 30, 1868, to commemorate the sacrifices of Civil War soldiers upon a proclamation made by Union General John A. Logan of the Grand Army of the Republic, an organization consisting former sailors and soldiers of the Union. Following a speech by General Logan and Ohio Congressman James Garfield at Arlington National Cemetery, the graves of more than 20,000 Union and Confederate soldiers who were buried there were been decorated.
According to PBS.org, “This national event galvanized efforts to honor and remember fallen soldiers that began with local celebrations at cemeteries in several cities across the United States following the end of the Civil War, such as the May 1, 1865, rally in Charleston, South Carolina, held by freed slaves to pay their respects and give a proper burial to Union soldiers.New York State would be the first to designate Memorial Day as a state holiday, and later others would follow.After World War I, it became a tradition to honor those who died in all of America’s wars and became the well-established national holiday we know today.
On Memorial Day, each year, a ceremony is held at Arlington Cemetery where the President or Vice President lays a wreath at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. It is a deeply moving experience to observe. If you’re not visiting the grave of someone who made the ultimate sacrifice because of war or service, and heading to a barbecue instead, consider yourself blessed. But please make time in your day to reflect on the lifestyle offered to you by those who died to protect and defend the freedoms we know and love. And let these moving words sung by Lee Greenwood, “And I’m proud to be an American, where at least I know I’m free.” And I won’t forget the men who died, who gave me that right. Thank you to the incredible men and women who have served our nation and made the ultimate sacrifice. We are eternally grateful to you and your families who endured your great loss. God protects you.
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