As you fire up the grill or get ready for a family outing this Memorial Day weekend, take a moment to remember the real reason we celebrate this occasion. It's true that in most of the country (Florida and warm states are the exceptions) we've come to equate Memorial Day with the start of "swimming pool" season in anticipation of Summer. But Memorial Day used to be called "Decoration Day" and was created to honor the men and women who died in service to our country.
While decorating soldiers graves with flowers is an ancient custom, our memorial day was born out of our Civil War and while many states claim to have been the first to honor their heroes, the call for Memorial Day to be commemorated annually and nationwide came on May 5, 1868 from General John Logan commander-in-chief of the Grand Army of The Republic, a veterans' organization for Union Civil War veterans. Logan declared: “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..." the date is said to have been chosen because it did not the commemorate any particular battle.
Memorial Day moved from May 30th to the last Monday in May with Congressional passage of the National Holiday Act of 1971.
Happy Memorial Day!