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May 30, 2016 — By: Christy V. Temple
Well, it’s the time of year again when we are about to start ushering in the summer months and all of the wonderful things that go along with it. Yes, this weekend is Memorial Day weekend and we all know that this means many people will get a long weekend off from work and have the chance to get together with family and friends for barbecues, picnics, and swim parties to celebrate the weekend.
However, let us not forget why we have this holiday to begin with. Memorial Day is a day set aside to honor those men and women who died serving our country in the military. This day was originally set aside some years ago as Decoration Day and it originated in the years following the Civil War. Officially, the holiday came to be observed in 1971 and countless cities across the United States hold celebrations and solemn remembrances of this time pausing to reflect on what these soldiers have done for our country. Each year on Memorial Day a national moment of remembrance takes place at 3 p.m. local time.
It’s interesting to note that Memorial Day was officially born in Waterloo, New York in 1966, according to the History channel website. Also mentioned in the article on Memorial Day, “Waterloo—which had first celebrated the day on May 5, 1866—was chosen because it hosted an annual, community-wide event, during which businesses closed and residents decorated the graves of soldiers with flowers and flags.”
Initially, the evolution of Memorial Day originated with the Civil War. “On May 5, 1868, General John A. Logan, leader of an organization for Northern Civil War veterans, called for a nationwide day of remembrance later that month. “The 30th of May, 1868, is designated for the purpose of strewing with flowers, or otherwise decorating the graves of comrades who died in defense of their country during the late rebellion, and whose bodies now lie in almost every city, village and hamlet churchyard in the land,” he proclaimed.
Years later Memorial Day evolved to include all conflicts due to the fact that the United States became heavily embroiled in the World Wars and lost many soldiers during this time as well. Therefore, in 1968 Congress passed the Uniform Monday Holiday Act, which established Memorial Day as the last Monday in May in order to create a three-day weekend for federal employees; the change went into effect in 1971. The same law also declared Memorial Day a federal holiday,” according to the History channel article.
I find the history behind this holiday to be quite interesting. However, the main thing to remember this weekend as we are all enjoying ourselves with backyard barbecues and other get-togethers is to take time out of our busy schedules and reflect on our freedoms and those that died to secure them. I hope you all have a safe, secure, and blessed Memorial Day!!