Three years after the Civil War ended, Memorial Day was made official on May 5, 1868 by General John Logan, the national commander of the Grand Army of the Republic. He made it official on May 5, but the first observance was on May 30, 1868 and continued the tradition of laying flowers and American flags on the graves and memorials of our country’s fallen soldiers. It was a day of remembrance and thankfulness for their service.
Memorial Day was known first as Decoration Day because of all the flowers and flags respectfully placed to honor our servicemen. Students and employees were given the day off to go to cemeteries, attend memorial services and to otherwise express their gratitude. Throughout the morning, flags flew half staff and then 3:00 pm was the National Moment of Remembrance when there was a national moment of silence with Taps playing.
So while you cut the watermelon and pack up to attend a neighborhood picnic, while you spend the day doing yard work, also take a moment to be thankful to those who died for our great country. Fly your flag for Memorial Day, remember yourself and talk to your children about why they have the day off from school. Attend a Memorial Day parade and wear one of those red poppy flowers in remembrance. Click here for the history behind the poppies.
Our history is peppered with conflicts and wars, and it continues today. We have men and women who have given their lives for the United States, men and women who sacrifice to keep America free, men and women who miss Christmases, birthdays, concerts and ball games to protect us. Remember them, and the families who care for them today.