What is Memorial Day?

Memorial Day is a great and wonderful way to remember our patriotic heroes who sacrificed their lives to help us breathe the air of freedom. This day is observed with families and friends visiting cemeteries and memorials to pay homage to their loved and forgotten ones.

“Your silent tents of green
We deck with fragrant flowers;
Yours has the suffering been,
The memory shall be ours.”
–Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

Memorial Day was first celebrated on May 30, 1868. It was observed by placing flowers on the graves of Union and Confederate soldiers during the first national celebration. Gen. James Garfield made a speech at Arlington National Cemetery, after which around 5,000 participants helped to decorate the graves of the more than 20,000 Union and Confederate soldiers who were buried there.

Three years after the Civil War ended, on May 5, 1868, the head of the Grand Army of the Republic (GAR) established Decoration Day as a time for the nation to decorate the graves of the war dead with flowers. Maj. Gen. John A. Logan declared that Decoration Day should be observed on May 30. This date was chosen because flowers would be in bloom all over the country.

The alternative name of “Memorial Day” was first used in 1882. It did not become more common until after World War II, and was not declared the official name by Federal law until 1967. On June 28, 1968, the United States Congress passed the Uniform Holidays Bill, which moved three holidays from their traditional dates to a specified Monday in order to create a convenient three-day weekend. The holidays included Washington’s Birthday, now celebrated as Presidents’ Day; Veterans Day and Memorial Day. The change moved Memorial Day from its traditional May 30 date to the last Monday in May. The law took effect at the federal level in 1971.

Red Poppies are a tradition inspired by a poem in 1915, “In Flanders Fields,” Moina Michael replied with her own poem:

We cherish too, the Poppy red
That grows on fields where valor led,
It seems to signal to the skies
That blood of heroes never dies.

Memorial Day is a day of remembrance of those who have died serving our country. I tear at the sound of “Taps” played at ceremonies on Memorial Day. “We come, not to mourn our dead soldiers, but to praise them.” –Francis A. Walker.

It is the VETERAN, not the preacher, who has given us freedom of religion.
It is the VETERAN, not the reporter, who has given us freedom of the press.
It is the VETERAN, not the poet, who has given us freedom of speech.
It is the VETERAN, not the campus organizer, who has given us freedom to assemble.
It is the VETERAN, not the lawyer, who has given us the right to a fair trial.
It is the VETERAN, not the politician, Who has given us the right to vote.

I will tear up as well. We will be with our son, Scott, at his gravesite in Bigfork, Montana in memory of his service to our country.

Have a fun, safe, and memorable Memorial Day.

God Bless America and our great United States.

  • jbtrevor

    Thanks, General

  • Gloria

    And It is God our Creator who has given us life to protect,
    These freedoms are constantly threaten by the enemy who look to take it away by denying God, distorting truth, justifying lies, crime and the movement to sear every man's conscience to accomplish their end, HELL!
    As the faithful who has passed on ,Who now rest in the hands of our Lord. They shall never be forgotten. The sacrifice they made with their life to suffer and died for our freedoms, to defend and protect our God Given freedom.
    Let us never forget .
    We must always remember the first sacrifice, for freedom and life. Was the Lord almighty who gave up his life for us

  • Jean

    I grew up moving from place to place. A foundational memory from my childhood is being at my grandmother's farm in Kansas one Memorial Day. That morning we went into the town cemetery. Everyone from miles around was there. Cheerful purposefulness filled the air. We laid flowers on the graves of our men who had fought for us. It was the first time my ten year old mind awakened to the sacrifice of husbands, fathers, sons, brothers. It was the first time I became aware of roots and my own personal history. My children never had that experience. Are there places where they still do that I wonder?

  • John Campbell

    Thank you this article — and more especially for the sacrifice of your son on our behalfs.

    "No one has greater love than this, to lay down his life for those whom he loves."

    - John 15:13

  • Jaime Faucette

    Thank you, sir, for allowing your son to serve his country knowing that he, and you, might be called on to make the ultimate sacrifice for our freedom. We honor him, and pray God's comfort for you and those left behind. My husband retired after 28 years in the Army National Guard but God preserved him to continue his lifework of providing for our 11 children, two of whom are considering the military right now.

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  • Mary

    Thank you Sir, for giving us your son for our freedoms. Thank your son for wanting to serve his country and
    to protect all her people. God Bless you and your family on this Memorial Day! We will remember your son
    and all who have given their lives for us to live in such a free country.
    Let Freedom Ring!