Celebrate Our Military on Memorial Day (and Every Day)
As we prepare for Memorial Day 2014, let’s take a moment to celebrate the history of this three-day weekend we all enjoy.
Memorial Day was borne out of the Civil War, and a shared American desire to honor our war dead. The day was officially proclaimed on May 5, 1868 by General John Logan, national commander of the Grand Army of the Republic.
His order said that “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.” In 1868, we celebrated the holiday as Decoration Day, chosen because it was not the anniversary of any particular battle.
On the first Decoration Day, General James Garfield (later our Nation’s 20th President) made a speech at Arlington National Cemetery, and 5,000 participants decorated the graves of the 20,000 Union and Confederate soldiers buried there.
The first state to officially recognize the holiday was New York in 1873. By 1890 it was recognized by all of the northern states. The South refused to acknowledge the day, honoring their dead on separate days until after World War I (when the holiday changed from honoring just those who died fighting in the Civil War to honoring Americans who died fighting in any war).
It is now celebrated in almost every state on the last Monday in May with Congressional passage of the National Holiday Act of 1971 (P.L. 90 – 363).
Join Hire Our Heroes in honoring our Nation’s veterans this weekend and every weekend. Thank you to the less than one percent of Americans who currently serve in the U.S. military, and thank you to the millions of Americans and their families who have served in our Nation’s military.
We salute you!
** Special thanks to our friends at www.usmemorialday.org for preserving our Nation’s Memorial Day history