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This is NOT a controversy that so many are involved in these days about changing historical facts. To me, personally, history cannot be changed. It is what it is. But there is a saying I like, “Honor to whom honor is due.” This Webstable Soup bowl is posted to honor those to whom honor is due, and to remember the families who lost loved ones through that historically sad experience.
Why do we celebrate Memorial Day? Memorial Day honors those who have died while serving in the United States military. Across the country, people celebrate through parades, family gatherings and ceremonies at cemeteries and memorials.
Memorial Day was originally known as Decoration Day. The holiday began as a way to honor soldiers who died in the Civil War, but the day now honors all U.S. veterans who have sacrificed their lives.
Veterans Day lands on Nov. 11 every year to celebrate all who have served in the country’s military, while Memorial Day is to honor those who died during their service.
Memorial Day conjures images of hamburgers, hot dogs, swimming pools, and summertime for many Americans. But the last Monday in May serves, most importantly, as a time to honor those who died while fighting in the U.S. Armed Forces. It’s a holiday steeped in somber American history and tradition.
The day actually began as “Decoration Day,” following the Civil War, when mourners placed flowers on the graves of Union and Confederate soldiers. Yes, Memorial Day has also come to signify the “unofficial” start of summer, but let’s remember the heroes who made it all possible. The Civil War ended in the spring of 1865 when Robert E. Lee surrendered the last major Confederate army to Ulysses S. Grant at the Appomattox Court House on April 9. Over 620,000 soldiers died in the four-year conflict. General John A. Logan of the Grand Army of the Republic (an organization of Union veterans) would eventually select May 30, 1868, as a day to pay tribute to the fallen:
“The 30th of May, 1868, is designated for the purpose of strewing with flowers, or otherwise decorating the graves of comrades who died in defense of their country during the late rebellion, and whose bodies now lie in almost every city, village, and hamlet churchyard in the land…”
Logan apparently chose May 30 because flowers would be in bloom all over the country. By the end of the 19th century, Memorial Day ceremonies were being held on May 30 throughout the nation. States passed proclamations, and the Army and Navy adopted rules for proper observance at their facilities.
The crowd attending the first Memorial Day ceremony at Arlington National Cemetery was approximately the same size as those that attend today’s observance — about 5,000 people. Small American flags were placed on each grave — a tradition still followed at many national cemeteries today. In recent years, the custom has grown in many families to decorate the graves of all departed loved ones.
By 1890, each Northern state had made Decoration Day an official holiday. But this was not the case in the South, where states continued to honor their dead on separate days until after the First World War.
The May 30 date held for decades. But, in 1968, Congress passed the Uniform Monday Holiday Act, which established Memorial Day as the last Monday in May in order to create a three-day weekend for federal employees. The change took place in 1971. The same law also declared Memorial Day a federal holiday.[i]
By The Numbers (As of 2019 Report)
620,000 – the number of soldiers who died on both sides of the Civil War.
1868 – the year when President James Garfield delivered a very long speech on Memorial Day.
2500 – the number of motorcyclists who participated in the first Rolling Thunder rally.
$1.5 billion – the number of dollars typically spent on meat and seafood in preparation for Memorial Day weekend.
60% – the percentage of American households who attend or host a barbecue on this day.
1.5 million – the number of people who watch the National Memorial Day Parade.
900,000 – the number of people who gathered for the Rolling Thunder Memorial Day motorcycle rally in 2019.
260,000 – the number of graves at Arlington National Cemetery adorned with flags in 2019.
45 million – the number of men and women who have served in a time of war for the U.S.
3 P.M. – the time of day when a moment of silence is observed by Americans throughout the country on this day.