Memorial Day: The True Reason for the Season
via the Dan’s Papers (Long Island, NY) web site
Memorial Day weekend is upon us, and with it comes the return of the weekly eastbound exodus from New York City, beach season and dress-your-best summer soirées.
That said, the reason for this weekend is Memorial Day itself. One of the nation’s oldest military-related holidays, it was first known as Decoration Day. Unlike Veterans Day (November 11) that celebrates those who served and survived, Memorial Day is a day to pause and remember our fellow citizens who made the ultimate sacrifice with their very lives in defense of our nation.
This day of remembrance first occurred after the end of our Civil War, a conflict that resulted in more American deaths than any other, as it was a war that pitted Americans against each other. Because of the vast number killed, it was also the war that motivated the creation of America’s first national cemeteries.
The exact origin of Memorial/Decoration Day is at best vague, it seemed to begin in the late 1860s as random towns and villages across the nation simultaneously set aside a day in spring to remember the locals lost shortly after the end of the Civil War. There is some historical speculation that the very first celebration was actually organized in Charleston, South Carolina by formerly enslaved Black people within a month after the Confederacy’s surrender in 1865.
In 1966, the federal government named Waterloo, NY as the birthplace of Memorial Day due to the town’s May 5, 1866 celebration that included the closing of businesses and schools, and the local residents decorating soldiers’ graves with flowers and flags.
Read the entire article on the Dan’s Papers web site here:
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