The Tomb of the Unknown, Arlington. July, 1992.
The picture above is a scan from a photograph of the Tomb of the Unknowns I took in 1992. The original photograph is now very washed out, so I converted it to sepia. It’s not a very good picture, but I wanted to include it in this post for Memorial Day.
Memorial Day, originally called Decoration Day, is a day of remembrance for those who have died in our nation’s service. There are many stories as to the actual beginnings of Decoration Day, but Waterloo, N. Y., was officially declared the birthplace of Memorial Day by President Lyndon Johnson. There is also evidence that organized women’s groups in the South were decorating graves before the end of the Civil War.
Memorial Day was officially proclaimed on May 5, 1868, by General John Logan, national commander of the Grand Army of the Republic, and was first observed on May 30th of that same year. The first state to officially recognize the holiday was New York in 1873. By 1890 it was recognized by all of the northern states, although the South refused to acknowledge the day until after World War I, when the holiday changed from honoring just those who died fighting in the Civil War to honoring Americans who died fighting in any war.
The holiday has changed in many ways over the years. In 1971 Congress changed the date to the last Monday in May to ensure a three day weekend. As such, Memorial Day is now celebrated as much for the unofficial beginning of summer as it is for a day of remembrance.
So I hope you will enjoy any special activities that you have planned for the day. But I also hope you will take a moment to remember those who sacrificed so much to give us the freedom that we enjoy.