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Memorial Day

Memorial Day is an American holiday that is celebrated on the last Monday of May to honor the fallen soldiers of the U.S. military. Memorial Day this year falls on Monday, May 27. This day also signifies the beginning of summer and end of the spring season.  

Traditionally known as Decoration Day, the event was originally held on May 30 and didn’t get its current name until after the end of World War II. It wasn’t officially seen as a federal holiday until 1971 which also signified the end of the American Civil War. Many take this day to hold family congregations and visit the cemeteries or memorials of relatives or comrades.  

The Origination of Decoration Day 

Decoration Day was named in the years following the end of World War I and wasn’t changed to Memorial Day until 1971. It began as a day to decorate the graves and to deliver prayers over the graves of fallen soldiers who lost their life during the Civil War. The event was originally celebrated this way by families and comrades after a speech given by General John A. Logan, a leader of an organization for Union veterans, in May of 1868 that stated “The 30th of May 1868, is designated for the purpose of strewing with flowers, or otherwise decorating the graves of comrades who died in defense of their country during the late rebellion, and whose bodies now lie in almost every city, village and hamlet churchyard in the land.” After World War I, the event was extended to include every soldier, men and women, who lost their life in combat or military action.  

The tradition of Decoration Day isn’t exact in its origin but was suspected to have been a tradition in various American cities and towns after the Civil War ended which was the reason for the country’s first national cemeteries. 

Memorial Day Traditions 

As it is known today, Memorial Day remembers the ones lost by parades of patriotic floats, adorning a red poppy – a tradition that comes from a poem in the World War I era - and appreciating veterans’ and military personnel alike. With the coming of summer, the going of spring and the welcoming of warmer weather, many also celebrate Memorial Day with barbecuing parties and weekend trips to the beach. The largest state-wide celebrations occurring in the country’s capital, Washington, D.C., and other metropolitan cities like Chicago and New York. 

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