History of Memorial Day

Originally Memorial Day was called Decoration Day to remember those of the military who died for our nation. It is uncertain which state or organization initiated the idea of memorializing our deceased soldiers. It is possible that a group of women originated the decoration of graves even before the end of the Civil War. Pres. Lyndon Johnson in May 1966 officially declared the birthplace of Memorial Day to be in Waterloo New York.

Gen. John Logan on May 5, 1868, proclaimed in his General Order Number 11 for flowers to be placed on the graves of both Union and Confederate soldiers at Arlington National Cemetery. It was not until after World War I that the purpose of the decorations was for all Americans who fought in any war. With the National Holiday Act of 1971 passed by Congress the day was declared to be the last Monday in May to assure a three day weekend holiday.

Moina Michael created the idea to wear red poppies on Memorial Day to honor those of our nation who died during war. She sold poppies to her friends and coworkers with the money going to benefit servicemen’s needs. In 1922 the veteran organization (VFW) sold poppies nationally. Two years later the VFW created what they called the Buddy Poppy program in which they sold artificial poppies made by disabled veterans. In 1948 the US Post Office honored Ms. Michael for her role in founding the national poppy movement by issuing a red three cents postage stamp with her likeness on it. Posting the American flag is part of the tradition of Memorial Day. Locally, Boy Scouts place flags on the graves of the fallen. Some towns have parades, cookouts, and speeches to observe the day. We must educate ourselves for the purpose of Memorial Day as a remembrance to honor our military members who gave their lives for our country. Even in family gatherings, it would be a good idea before the meal and before Grace to have a moment of silence honoring those soldiers who gave it all so we can have that day of freedom. Some believe that making Memorial Day as part of a three day weekend has undermined the purpose of honoring

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