A Day of Remembrance
May 10, 2011
Memorial Day, originally called Decoration Day, is a day of remembrance for those who have died while in our nation's service. Officially proclaimed on May 5, 1868 by General John Logan, national commander of the Grand Army of the Republic, it was first observed on May 30, 1868 when flowers were placed on the graves of Union and Confederate soldiers at Arlington National Cemetery. By 1890, all the northern states officially recognized the holiday. The South refused to acknowledge the day, instead honoring their dead on separate days until after World War 1 (when the holiday changed from honoring just those who died fighting in the Civil War to honoring Americans who died fighting in any war).
It is now celebrated in almost every State on the last Monday in May (passed by Congress to ensure a three day weekend for Federal holidays) though several southern states have an additional separate day for honoring the Confederate war dead: January 19 in Texas, April 26 in Alabama, Florida, Georgia, and Mississippi; May 10 in South Carolina; and June 3 (Jefferson Davis' birthday) in Louisiana and Tennessee.
Traditional observance of Memorial Day has diminished over the years, and many Americans have forgotten the meaning and traditions of Memorial Day. To help re-educate and remind Americans of the true meaning of Memorial Day, the "National Moment of Remembrance" resolution was passed in December of 2000, which asks that at 3:00 P.M. local time all Americans "... voluntarily and informally observe in their own way a Moment of Remembrance and Respect, pausing from whatever they are doing for a moment of silence or listening to Taps". The Moment does not replace traditional Memorial Day events; rather it is an act of national unity in which all Americans, alone or with family and friends, honor those who died for our freedom. It will help to reclaim Memorial Day as the sacred and noble holiday it was meant to be. In this shared remembrance, we connect as Americans.
So when you are planning your holiday, include a moment of remembrance to honor our war dead.