As we approach the Memorial Day weekend, we anxiously anticipate our plans of fun, barbeques, and three days away from work. But in between flipping burgers on the grill, lounging in the pool, and watching the Indianapolis 500, let's take a moment and reflect on the real reason for the official "kick-off" to summer.
Memorial Day was originally known as Decoration Day because it was a time set aside to honor the nation's Civil War dead by decorating their graves. It was first widely observed on May 30, 1868, to honor the sacrifices of Civil War soldiers, by proclamation of General John A. Logan of the Grand Army of the Republic, an organization of former sailors and soldiers. It was his declaration that the 30th day of May, 1868, was to be 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 were left in almost every city and village throughout the land. No form of ceremony was required, but an observance filled with fitting services and testimonials of respect was encouraged.
By the late 1800s, many communities across the country had begun to celebrate Memorial Day and, after World War I, observances also began to honor those who had died in all of America's wars. In 1971, Congress declared Memorial Day a national holiday to be celebrated the last Monday in May. In the year 2000, Congress established a National Moment of Remembrance, which asks Americans to pause for one minute at 3:00 p.m. in an act of national unity. The time was chosen because 3:00 p.m. was found to be the time when most Americans were fully enjoying their freedoms on the national holiday.
Undoubtedly, the soldiers paid the greatest price when they died for this country. While we have the luxury of having fun and cooking out, we should take a moment of silence in remembrance for those brave men and women who fought for our freedom.
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