Memorial Day is on Monday, May 30, 2022. It became a national holiday in the United States in 1971 by an act of Congress and is celebrated annually on the last Monday in May. When folks think of Memorial Day, they often associate it with the coming of summer and barbecues ripe with hot dogs and hamburgers. While it’s enjoyable to spend time with family and friends over the long weekend, and gatherings do hold a place in history, above all, Memorial Day is of great significance to honor those who have served and died in all wars to protect our country. It essentially memorializes the veterans who made the ultimate sacrifice and died honorably so that we can enjoy the freedom and lifestyles we have today.
This important federal holiday commemorates the men and women who died while in service to the military, particularly those who died in battle or results of having been in battle. This day is associated with freedom because that is the main cause of the service of many distinguished men and women. We can look to the dictionary definition of brave: ready to face and endure danger or pain, showing courage. Courage is the ability to do something that frightens oneself but moreover it is strength in the face of pain or grief. Wars are ugly. As evident in major wars, including The American Revolution, The Civil War, and World War I and II, some hard fought on our soil and others not, courage was the cornerstone of service.
Originally called Decoration Day, Memorial Day came into being after the early tradition of decorating graves with flower, wreaths, and flags took hold. It was first widely observed on May 30, 1868, to commemorate the sacrifices of Civil War soldiers upon a proclamation made by Union Gen. John A. Logan of the Grand Army of the Republic, an organization comprised of former Union sailors and soldiers. Following a speech made by Gen. Logan and Ohio Congressman James Garfield at Arlington National Cemetery, the graves of more than 20,000 Union and Confederate soldiers who were interred there were decorated.
Per PBS.org, “This national event galvanized efforts to honor and remember fallen soldiers that began with local observances at burial grounds in several towns throughout the United States following the end of the Civil War, such as the May 1, 1865, gathering in Charleston, South Carolina, organized by freed slaves to pay tribute and give proper burial to Union Soldiers.” New York State would be the first to designate Memorial Day as a legal holiday, and later others would follow suit. Following WWI, it became a tradition to honor those who died in all of America’s wars and grew into the well-established national holiday we know today.
On Memorial Day, each year a ceremony takes place at Arlington Cemetery where the President or Vice President lays a wreath at the tomb of the Unknown Soldier. It is a deeply moving experience to observe. If you are not visiting a grave of someone who made the ultimate sacrifice because of war or service, and instead are headed to a barbecue, count yourself blessed. But please do carve some time out of your day to reflect upon the lifestyle you are gifted by those who died to protect and defend the freedoms we know and love. And let these moving words sung by Lee Greenwood, “And I’m proud to be an American, where at least I know I’m free. And I won’t forget the men who died, who gave that right to me.” Thank you to the amazing men and women who served our nation and made the ultimate sacrifice. We are forever grateful to you and to your families who have endured your great loss. God bless.
We hope you've enjoyed this article. While you're here, we have a small favor to ask...
Support the AMAC Foundation. Our 501(c)(3) powers the AMAC Foundation’s Social Security Advisory Services. This team of nationally accredited advisors offers on-time, on-the-mark guidance for those approaching or receiving Social Security – at no cost.Donate Now