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Honoring the Sacrifice: Reflecting on Memorial Day

As the warmth of spring envelopes us and the scent of blooming flowers fills the air, our thoughts turn to those who made the ultimate sacrifice in service to their country. Memorial Day, observed on the last Monday of May each year, stands as a solemn reminder of the bravery, dedication, and selflessness of the men and women who gave their lives in defense of freedom and democracy.

Did You Know?

Some records show that one of the earliest Memorial Day commemorations was organized by a group of formerly enslaved people in Charleston, South Carolina less than a month after the Confederacy surrendered in 1865. 

In 1868, General John A. Logan, the leader of an organization for Northern Civil War veterans, called for a nationwide day of remembrance on the 30th of May. He called it Decoration Day, named for the decoration of soldiers’ graves.

Decoration Day originally only honored the soldiers who died in the Civil War. After WWI, it was changed to all soldiers who lost their lives in war.

For decades, Memorial Day continued to be observed on May 30, the date General Logan had selected for the first Decoration Day. But in 1968, Congress passed the Uniform Monday Holiday Act, which established Memorial Day as the last Monday in May in order to create a three-day weekend for federal employees. The change went into effect in 1971. The same law also declared Memorial Day a federal holiday.

Each year on Memorial Day, a national moment of remembrance takes place at 3:00 pm local time.

The red poppy is a nationally recognized symbol of sacrifice and has been worn by Americans since WWI to honor those who served and died for our country. The tradition of wearing a red poppy on Memorial Day began with a WWI poem titled “In Flander’s Field.”

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