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Origins of Memorial Day

            At some point in time, Memorial Day has become a holiday that signifies the unofficial beginning of summer.  Of course, it is a much more important day than that.  It is a time to honor those who fought and died in the service of the United States of America.

            Originally called Decoration Day, Memorial Day was the result of a desire to honor the memory of Union soldiers who died in the Civil War.  It was officially proclaimed on May 5, 1868 by General John Logan, the commander of the Grand Army of the Republic, an organization of Union veterans.  Interestingly, May 30 was chosen because that date was not the anniversary of any particular Civil War battle.  The purpose was to decorate the soldiers’ graves with flowers on that date.

            The South initially refused to acknowledge Memorial Day, instead honoring Confederate soldiers on separate days.  That changed after World War I when the holiday was expanded to honor not just deceased Civil War veterans but any solider who died fighting in any war.  The name was changed from Decoration Day to Memorial Day, but not officially so until 1967.  A year later Memorial Day was moved to the last Monday in May by Federal law – along with 3 other holidays – to create a 3 day weekend.

            So as we enjoy the many parades across our state and country we give thanks to the men and women who fought and died to preserve the freedoms which we so often take for granted.