This is a question that many Americans may not know the answer to simply because it’s true meaning has been minimized over the years by Memorial Day weekend sales, BBQs and Summer parties, or just a three day weekend off work.
While none of those are bad things, it’s important that we take a moment to reflect on the holiday itself and why it exists…
Memorial Day is an American holiday honoring the men and women who died while serving in the United States military. Originally known as Decoration Day, it originated in the late 1860s following the Civil War.
Why Decoration Day?
The Civil War, which ended in the spring of 1865, claimed more lives than any conflict in U.S. history and required the establishment of the country’s first national cemeteries.
By the late 1860s, Americans in various towns and cities had begun holding springtime tributes to these countless fallen soldiers, decorating their graves with flowers and reciting prayers. Hence, Decoration Day seemed like a fitting name.
On the first Decoration Day, General Jame Garfield made a speech at Arlington National Cemetery, and 5,000 participants decorated the graves of the 20,000 Union and Confederate soldiers buried there.
Today, more than three million people visit Arlington National Cemetery annually, many coming to pay final respects at graveside services. There are over 400,000 men and women that have served our great nation buried at Arlington.
However, many of our fallen heroes are also buried in their hometowns or other cemeteries closer to their families.
Memorial Day, as Decoration Day gradually came to be known, originally honored only those lost while fighting in the Civil War. But during World War I the United States found itself embroiled in another major conflict, and the holiday evolved to commemorate American military personnel who died in all wars.
This is a special day of remembrance for all Americans especially those that lost their loved ones – family, friends, and fellow soldiers that served along side of the fallen. As Americans, we have the responsibility to honor their sacrifice.
Let’s take a moment during this Memorial Day weekend to remember the warriors that left home to fight for our freedom and never returned. Pray for their families as they continue to grieve their loss.
And as you enjoy living in America, the greatest country on Earth, never forget…
Freedom isn’t Free!
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