Saturday, May 26, 2018

A Brief History of Memorial Day

After the Civil War, our nation was staggered by the tremendous loss of life on both sides, and the need for memorial services - then called Decoration services - was felt in both the North and the South.

One of the first services was in Columbus, 1866 when a group of women visited a cemetery to decorate the graves of Confederate soldiers who had fallen in battle at Shiloh. Nearby were the graves of Union soldiers, neglected because they were the enemy. Disturbed at the sight of the bare graves, the women placed flowers on those graves as well.

In 1868 in Washington, D.C., it was declared that Decoration Day should be observed on May 30 because flowers would be in bloom all over the country to use to decorate the graves and honor those who had died in the war, both in the North and the South.

This first observance was held in Arlington National Cemetery. Then, as now, small American flags were placed on each grave — a tradition followed at many national cemeteries today.

Decoration Day expanded to become Memorial Day after World War One to include those who had recently died in that war, and now honors all Americans who have died in service to their country.

In December 2000, the “The National Moment of Remembrance Act" was passed. The National Moment of Remembrance encourages all Americans to pause wherever they are at 3 p.m. local time on Memorial Day for a minute of silence to remember and honor those who have died in service to the nation.

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