What is the History and Significance of Memorial Day? – NBC10 Philadelphia

In recent history, Memorial Day marked the unofficial beginning of summer. Families cook out on the BBQ, the local swimming pool announces its opening day, retailers advertise big sales.

While everyone is free to celebrate how they choose, Americans should also remember that this holiday is truly a sombre occasion to stop and reflect as a nation.

What is Memorial Day?

The holiday occurs on the last Monday in May each year and is a special day honoring US service members who have died while serving in the US armed forces.

Over 1.3 million Americans have made the ultimate sacrifice for their nation.

When was Memorial Day first celebrated?

Memorial Day was originally called Decoration Day. In 1869, the head of an organization of Union veterans, Major General John A. Logan, instituted Decoration Day to allow the nation to honor the graves of those who died in the Civil War with flowers for veterans’ affairs, according to the U.S. Department.

There is debate as to which city was Memorial Day’s place of origin, although the first major commemoration was held in 1868 at Arlington National Cemetery before a crowd of about 5,000.

According to the VA, in 1966 President Lyndon Johnson declared Waterloo, New York, the official “birthplace” of the holiday.

Why was May 30 chosen?

It is understood that Logan chose May 30th as the day for Decorating Day because according to the VA, flowers would be blooming nationwide.

Although there was debate in the future as to whether Memorial Day would be official, state legislatures passed proclamations in the late 1800s establishing May 30 as a holiday.

Veterans Day and Memorial Day both honor the US military community, but both holidays serve different purposes.

When was it declared a national holiday?

In 1971, Congress declared Memorial Day a national holiday, making it the last Monday in May. According to the VA, the day has been expanded to honor all who died in American wars.

Congress passed in December 2000 and the President signed The National Moment of Remembrance Act into law to ensure those who gave their lives for the country are not forgotten.

How to celebrate Memorial Day

At 3:00 p.m. local time, Americans will be asked to attend the National Moment of Remembrance, a time when they will observe a minute’s silence and honor those who have died serving the United States

Editor’s Note: A version of this story was originally published in 2022.

https://www.nbcphiladelphia.com/news/national-international/this-is-the-history-and-meaning-behind-memorial-day/3574195/ What is the History and Significance of Memorial Day? – NBC10 Philadelphia


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