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 about the beginnings of Memorial Day and it is hard to say where it actually began. 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 30, 1868, when flowers were placed on the graves of Union and Confederate soldiers at Arlington National Cemetery.
The first state to officially recognize Memorial Day was New York in 1873. By 1890 it was recognized by all of the northern states. The South refused to acknowledge the holiday until after World War I (when the holiday was changed from honoring just those who died fighting the Civil War to honoring Americans who died fighting in any war). In 1971 the official date of Memorial Day was set by act of Congress as the last Monday in May.
For most Americans Memorial Day is celebrated as the unofficial start of summer. The original meaning of the day has almost been forgotten. But please, as you enjoy the holiday, take a moment to remember those who made it possible for us to enjoy it.