This year Memorial Day comes as early in the month as it can, on Monday May the 25th. The United States has been observing that holiday on the last Monday of May since 1971 when the “Uniform Monday Holiday Act” made several national holidays land on Mondays to give workers a three-day weekend. Before that Memorial Day came on May 30th.
Memorial Day or Decoration Day, an official day to remember those who died while in the service, started in 1868, a few years after the end of the Civil War. May 30th was chosen because that was the day when the flowers are at their best. John A. Logan, the Union general who established the holiday, ordered his posts to decorate soldier’s graves “with the choicest flowers of springtime.” Today, as in years gone by, many people observe the day by visiting cemeteries and memorials and place American flags on each grave site of a service member. At three in the afternoon there is an official National Moment of Remembrance meant to encourage all Americans to pause wherever they are at 3 p.m. local time on Memorial Day for a minute of silence to remember and honor those who have died in service to the nation. As Moment of Remembrance founder Carmella LaSpada states: “It’s a way we can all help put the memorial back in Memorial Day.”
In recent years, the custom has grown in many families to decorate the graves of all departed loved ones, not just of veterans. Or sometimes people without any personal connection to the deceased will place flags at the graves of all the buried soldiers in a particular cemetery in appreciation of their sacrifice.Article written by SuzAnne Runge, Director of Communications, Wayne Township Trustee Office.