Monday, May 30, 2011

The Upshot

The meaning of Memorial Day
By Claudine Zap

Officially, Memorial Day, observed on the last Monday of May (this year it's May 30), honors the war dead. Unofficially, the day honors the start of summer. (More on that in a moment.)

The upcoming three-day weekend has prompted searches on Yahoo! for "when is memorial day," "what is memorial day," and "memorial day history." The day was originally known as "Decoration Day" because the day was dedicated to the Civil War dead, when mourners would decorate gravesites as a remembrance.

The holiday was first widely observed on May 30, 1868, when 5,000 people helped decorate the gravesites of 20,000 Union and Confederate soldiers buried at Arlington National Cemetery. (Some parts of the South still remember members of the Confederate Army with Confederate Memorial Day.)

After World War I, the observances were widened to honor the fallen from all American wars--and in 1971, Congress declared Memorial Day a national holiday.

Towns across the country now honor military personnel with services, parades, and fireworks. A national moment of remembrance takes place at 3 p.m. At Arlington National Cemetery, headstones are graced with small American flags.

This day is not to be confused with Veterans Day, which is observed on November 11 to honor military veterans, both alive and dead.

However, confusion abounds anyway, with the weekend marking for many the kickoff of summer, and it is reserved for weekend getaways, picnics, and sales. Searches on "memorial day sales," "memorial day recipes," and "memorial day weekend" are just some of the lookups related to the festivities.


kavita said...

I was just about to google Memorial Day when read it in a Hawaiin blogger friend's post.Thanks for this,it was very helpful.
Have a nice Memorial Day .

Merle said...

Dear Patty ~~ Thanks for the info on "Memorial Day" and it is a day to remember all who gave their lives so
the rest of us could be free.
Thanks for your comments on my blog.
Take great care, dear friend,
Much love, Merle.

Arkansas Patti said...

Thanks for that post Patty. Sadly we have strayed away from the original intent of the day. My town does not even have a service.

reanaclaire said...

Nice touching post, Patty..

Margaret Cloud said...

I did not know this, so I thank you for sharing. Hope your Memorial Day was a good one.