Memorial Day is more than just a three-day weekend and a time to pull out the grill to barbecue. We lose perspective on holidays, as in this case, many forget that this annual holiday is meant to pay respect to the men and women who have died while in military service. Here are some facts that will give you perspective on the holiday.
Memorial day was created due to the large amount of deaths in the aftermath of the Civil War. The amount of life lost affected both the North and the South and lead to a spontaneous commemoration of the dead. General Alexander Logan officially proclaimed May 30, 1868 as Memorial Day to honor the Union soldiers that died in the Civil War. On May 26, 1966, President Johnson signed a presidential proclamation naming Waterloo, New York, as the birthplace of Memorial Day.
3pm is the National Moment of Remembrance
This moment was established by Congress and happens at 3pm local time on Memorial Day. It is the time where we are asked to pause for one minute to think about and honor those who died in service. It is an act of national unity and this time was chosen because it is considered the time when most Americans will be enjoying their freedom.
It was initially called “Decoration Day” and didn’t become Memorial Day until after World War II. In 1967, Federal law declared the holiday “Memorial Day.” The term “Decoration” was meant to highlight the way people decorated the graves of those that had died by placing American flags or flowers on the graves.
The red poppy has become a symbol for the holiday after the poem “In Flanders Fields” by John McCrae. This flower is also a symbol of Veterans Day – a holiday to respect veterans living and dead for their service.
Change of Date
In 1968, Memorial Day was moved from May 30 to the last Monday in May to ensure a three-day weekend under the Uniform Monday Holiday Act.