Why We Have a Memorial Day

American flags placed at the cemetery to honor veterans
Memorial Day is a day to honor fallen soldiers.

When people think of Memorial Day they often think of the beginning of summer. Schools close. Pools open. People grill out. But Memorial Day has a more serious side. It is a day to commemorate [remember with respect] soldiers who have died for the United States. Let’s take a look at the history of Memorial Day.

The idea to honor fallen soldiers came from the Civil War. Even before the war ended, women in the South decorated the graves of dead soldiers. Just after the war ended, a group of recently freed slaves held a service to commemorate soldiers who died in Southern prisons.

These remembrances inspired General John A. Logan, commander-in-chief of the Union veterans’ [former soldiers] group to proclaim that May 30th should be known as “Decoration Day.” It would be a day to lay flowers and decorate the graves of people who died during the Civil War. May 30th was chosen because by then flowers would be blooming all over the country.

After America entered World War I, the day was changed to honor people who died in all American wars. In 1971, Memorial Day officially became a federal holiday. It was changed to the last Monday of every May. In 2000, Congress made a change to the day. They passed a law that encourages Americans to pause at 3 p.m. for a National Moment of Remembrance.

What About You? How do you honor fallen soldiers?

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