This coming Monday we celebrate Memorial Day, a federal holiday originally called Decoration Day. Some people still refer to it as Decoration Day and this holiday traditionally marks the beginning of summer.
Memorial Day began as a way to remember and honor both Union and Confederate soldiers who were killed in battle during the Civil War. The 30th of May was designated to decorate those graves with the choicest flowers of springtime. The day was officially proclaimed in 1868 at Arlington National Cemetery by General John Logan, the national commander of the Grand Army of the Republic.
After WWI Memorial Day was extended to honor Americans who died in all wars. Today most Americans use this holiday as a time to decorate grave sites, whether the deceased served in the military or not.
Memorial Day was declared a U.S. federal holiday in 1971 and is now observed the last Monday in May.
In December 2000 the National Moment of Remembrance resolution was passed, which asks all Americans to pause at 3:00 p.m. local time and reflect on the meaning of Memorial Day.
Proper American flag etiquette should be observed on Memorial Day. The American flag should be flown at half-staff until noon and then raised to full-staff. During a parade there may be several participants with a flag and it is appropriate to salute only the first flag as it passes by. As the first flag passes everyone should show respect by standing at attention with their right hand over their heart. Those in uniform should give their appropriate formal salute.
Most area town have a Memorial Day ceremony at local cemetery, conducted by the local American Legion and/or VFW, who also mark all veterans’ graves with an American flag. Willshire Home Furnishings will have a display of military uniforms, photos, flags, maps, and letters of local servicemen all weekend and Memorial Day. It is a wonderful display and well worth a visit.
The flag photos in this post were taken at Resthaven Memory Gardens, located in Auglaize County, east of St. Marys on 33A. The beautiful display is set up and flown every Memorial Day. In addition to the American flags, flags representing of all five branches of the military are also flown–Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines, and Coast Guard, as well as a POW/MIA flag. There are also plaques recognizing the major U.S. wars and conflicts. It is a breathtaking display.
Remember the true meaning of Memorial Day this Monday as you welcome summer.