Memorial Day is a federal holiday celebrated on the last Monday in May and is designated to honor military veterans that died while serving in the United States Armed Forces.
The history of Memorial Day dates to soon after the Civil War. Many towns began to observe special days to honor those lost in the Civil War. Although several cities claim to be the first to celebrate this national holiday, it is not clear which was the first to do so. In 1868 the Grand Army of the Republic (GAR), began marking May 30 as a day to decorate the graves of those lost in war, known as Decoration Day. For the remainder of the 19th century more ceremonies of this type took place and became uniform across the country as the GAR began providing handbooks for local events.
By the beginning of the 20th century, the observance of various days to honor fallen soldiers merged into one day. It wasn’t until after World War I however, that the day was modified to include those that died in all American Wars. After World War II the name “Memorial Day” became more common than “Decoration Day” and it became officially designated so by law in 1967. Memorial Day was observed on May 30 until 1971 when it became a federal holiday under the Uniform Monday Holiday Act.
Memorial Day celebrations often include decorating graves, parades, and reunions. While many traditional Memorial Day activities may be different this year due to the Covid-19 pandemic, it is still imperative to honor those that passed in the service of our country and made our freedoms possible. From all of us here at the Sons of the American Revolution, may you and your family stay safe and healthy this Memorial Day.