Even though barbecues and the upcoming summer weather may be on everyone’s minds this weekend, the Memorial Day holiday is really a time to remember the members of the military who lost their lives serving the United States of America, as well as the men and women who continue to protect us today,
Memorial Day is annually celebrated the last Monday in May. This year, the holiday takes place on Monday, May 25.
How Memorial Day started
Memorial Day was first known as Decoration Day and was born out of the Civil War. On May 30, 1868, Gen. John Logan, a national commander of the Grand Army of the Republic, decreed General Order No. 11 and designated the day 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.” May 30 was chosen because it wasn’t the anniversary of any particular battle.
It took several years for the first state to recognize the holiday, which New York adopted in 1873. By 1890, all northern states recognized Decoration Day. When the holiday changed from commemorating those who died fighting the Civil War to honoring Americans who died fighting in any war after World War I, the South began to recognize it, as well.
Honoring the military
Although Memorial Day honors the brave people who lost their lives fighting for our country, it also is an opportunity to recognize the military men and women and their families who continue to work to ensure the freedom of all of us Americans today.
The United States Armed Forces is noted for its size and strength. The United States military is estimated to include between 1.4 million and 1.6 million active service people. The military is composed of the Army, Army National Guard, Navy, Air Force, Marine Corps and Coast Guard. Each of these military branches also has its own reserves.
There are many ways to honor active and reserve military and veterans, as well as those who died in service of their country:
Help maintain the veteran area of a nearby cemetery. Place flags on all of the graves.
Learn about past wars and the services the military provides.
Visit a military museum or historic site.
Observe the National Moment of Remembrance at 3 p.m. on Monday, Memorial Day, by pausing for one minute to remember the importance of the day.
Post a message to the troops at the USO website (uso.org).
In times when social distancing recommendations lessen, consider visiting a wounded veteran at his or her home or at a veterans hospital. Or children can help the Veterans of Foreign Wars distribute red poppies that are a reminder of the military’s work to keep us safe.