This weekend many people will head to the beach or their favorite picnic location to celebrate the unofficial start of summer. For nearly 150 years, Americans have observed Memorial Day, a day to honor men and women who died while serving in the U.S. military.
- The practice of honoring those who have fallen in battle dates back to the ancient Greeks and Romans, who held annual days of remembrance for loved ones, decorating graves with flowers and holding festivals in their honor.
- In May 1868, General John A. Logan, the commander-in-chief of the Union veterans’ group known as the Grand Army of the Republic, issued a decree that May 30 should become a nationwide day of commemoration for the more than 620,000 soldiers killed in the recently ended Civil War.
- Memorial Day was originally called Decoration Day and was known by that name for more than a century.
- Memorial Day didn’t become a federal holiday until 1971.
- Veterans groups worry that more Americans associate the holiday with the first long weekend of summer instead of its intended purpose of honoring the nation’s war dead and continue to lobby for a return to the May 30 observance.
- In 1966, 100 years after the town of Waterloo, New York, shuttered its businesses and took to the streets for the first of many continuous, community-wide celebrations, President Lyndon Johnson signed legislation naming the tiny upstate village the “official” birthplace of Memorial Day.
- The American flag should be hung at half-staff until noon on Memorial Day, then raised to the top of the staff.
- Since 2000 when the U.S. Congress passed legislation, all Americans have been encouraged to pause for a National Moment of Remembrance at 3 p.m. local time.
Massey Services hopes all of you enjoy time with family and friends during the long weekend.