Memorial Day 2019

1870 Decoration Day parade in St. Paul MN by Charles Alfred Zimmerman

Today is Memorial Day in the United States. Based on the Wikipedia article, the exact history of this holiday is still up for debate. But then, isn’t everything these days.

It seems to have begun as Decoration Day, a day to decorate the graves of fallen soldiers. And it seems to have “officially” been set to May 30 after the U.S. Civil War. Needless to say, that was observed differently between the North and South in the late 19th century.

In the (not quite) end, all of the various Decoration Day and Memorial Day observances coalesced into one day, May 30, to become Memorial Day, to honor the sacrifice of all soldiers who fell in uniform regardless of which war (or not) they fell in.

And things stayed that way until the whole “Monday Holiday” thing, otherwise known as the Uniform Monday Holiday Act in 1968, moved four holidays from their traditional dates of observance to their nearest convenient Monday in order to create 3-day weekends and boost tourism. So here we are, many, but not all of us able to celebrate the unofficial start of summer.

But that’s not how this all began, and not how it should be remembered. Today is Memorial Day, a day set aside to honor the fallen. And so we should.

Graves at Arlington National Cemetery on Memorial Day
Gravestones at Arlington National Cemetery on Memorial Day weekend

 

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