The History And Meaning Of Memorial Day

By Nolan Patrick Smith

High Desert Daily

(Victorville) The Memorial Day weekend is upon us, and for many that means the unofficial start of summer and all the fun that comes with it. But the holiday holds such importance, such meaning, that the reason for the holiday needs to be remembered before all the fun in the sun. So, when did Memorial Day start officially?

Memorial Day is for the remembrance of all those American servicemen lost in combat throughout all the battles and wars of the United States. For the first Memorial Day, which was actually known as Decoration Day, you have to go back in history to just after the time of the Civil War. The Civil War claimed more lives than any other conflict in United States history. It was the late 1860’s when people began holding springtime remembrances for all the soldiers who fell in combat, a tradition called for by General John A. Logan.  The home of the first, official Memorial Day/Decoration Day was Waterloo, New York, as declared by the federal government due to the annual, community wide event that was held, in which stores would close in order for the whole community to pay their respects to the fallen servicemen on May 5th, 1866.

It wasn’t until 1971 that Memorial Day was declared a national holiday, and the observation of Memorial Day was moved to the last Monday in May in order to create the much-celebrated three-day weekend we all know of these days. Yet, the meaning of the holiday seems to be lost by so many. Instead of a time of remembrance, of thanks to those who gave their lives for our freedom, we just look at it as another three-day weekend, a reason to not work, light up the barbecue, and celebrate the start of summer. You can still follow through with all those plans of vacations and family gatherings; there is nothing wrong with that. Just make sure to take a moment or two to remember those that made this Memorial Day one filled with life, liberty and freedom.

On this Memorial Day, remember those that died serving our country, and those that continue to do so who have lost their friends on the battlefield. As started in 2000, the National Moment of Remembrance is where Americans are asked to take a one-minute pause to remember those who died in battle on behalf of our great nation at 3pm local time. Of course, take more than a minute to remember those who are gone, because every minute we have of happiness in the sunshine this weekend, we have our servicemen to thank for it.

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