A Special Memorial Day, May 2016

Categories:National Holidays
Debbie O'Keefe
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A Special Memorial Day, May 2016

This year marks 150 Years of honoring those who have given their lives during wartime. Over the past 241 Years (since 1775), approximately 1.2 million Americans have sacrificed their lives in wartime.

It is very important to note that this special holiday calls for honoring only the wartime loss of lives in uniform! This holiday does not recognize all veterans; it honors only those who lost their life in service to our country.

“Memorial Day is intended for all Americans to share, at least symbolically, in a collective form of brief.” Mourning for those who have lost their lives. To recognize this special 150th anniversary Memorial Day, please remind your friends that this holiday is, in some ways, the most important holiday on the nation’s calendar.

Memorial Day (sometimes called Decoration Day) is a patriotic holiday in the United States that was originally established to honor military personnel who died in the Civil War (1861-1865). The holiday now honors those who died in any war while serving in the United States Armed Forces. (Note: It is important to note that the immediate family of those service members that have been killed-in-action are authorized by the Department of Defense to display the “Gold Star Service Banner”.)

Memorial Day is a legal holiday observed on the last Monday in May. This date was made a federal holiday by a law that became effective in 1971.

In accordance with US Code Title 4, Section 6 (d)the US Flag should be flown at half staff until noon on Memorial Day. Traditionally, people also place flowers and flags on the graves of military personnel on Memorial Day. Many organizations, including Boy Scouts, Girl Scouts, and fraternal groups, march in military parades and take part in special programs. These programs often include the reading of Abraham Lincoln’s “Gettysburg Address”. Memorials are often dedicated on this day. Military exercises and special programs are held at Gettysburg National Military Park and at the National Cemetery in Arlington, Virginia.

Since the end of World War I, Memorial Day has also been Poppy Day. Volunteers sell small, red artificial poppies in order to help disabled veterans. In recent years, the custom has grown in most families to decorate the graves of loved ones on Memorial Day.

Several communities claim to have originated Memorial Day. But in 1966, the U. S. government proclaimed Waterloo, New York, the birthplace of the holiday. The people of Waterloo first observed Memorial Day on May 5, 1866, to honor soldiers killed in the Civil War.

Major General John A. Logan in 1868 named May 30 as a special day for honoring the graves of Union Soldiers. Logan served as commander in chief of the Grand Army of the Republic, an organization of Union veterans of the Civil War. They had charge of Memorial Day celebrations in the Northern States for many years. The American Legion took over this duty after World War I.

Sources: The world Book Multimedia Encyclopedia and
Honor The Flag VFW Magazine, May 2016

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