History of Memorial Day and Ways to Celebrate

Memorial Day is way more than just a day off work. In the United States, it is a day for all of us to appreciate the freedoms we have for those who made the ultimate sacrifice for our country. It is also the unofficial kick-off to summer. As we reflect this coming year on those we have lost, ones who are overseas and the veterans who we have in our lives, let’s also remember where this day came from and its roots. We have also included some other ways to celebrate Memorial Day this year.

The History of Memorial Day

According to PBS, May 30, 1868, was our Nation’s first official celebration of what we now refer to as Memorial Day. Originally called Decoration Day, the commemoration honored the sacrifices of Civil War soldiers. The day was declared by proclamation of General John A. Logan of the Grand Army of the Republic, an organization of the former Union soldiers. It is estimated that over 5,000 people attended the first event at Arlington National Cemetery. Participants heard speeches by Congressmen and decorated the graves over 20,000 soldiers buried there, hence, the name Decoration Day. Here are some additional facts about how Memorial Day came to be:

  • The event went on to inspire local celebrations in other states, and in 1873, New York became the first state to designate it is an official holiday.
  • After the first World War, it became a day of remembrance for all American soldiers who died in any battles throughout history.
  • In 1971, Congress established Memorial Day, officially, with the passing of the Uniform Monday Holiday Act. This declaration stated that Memorial Day would always be observed on the last Monday in May.

Ways to Remember and Honor

  1. History of the Memorial Day - QuoteAttend a Parade
    Look at the Maryland Parade Schedule to attend a parade for the day. Many of them are free to the public and is a great way to celebrate local servicemembers while being fun for the entire family.
  2. Decorate with Flags
    Want to show your American pride? Consider hanging a flag on your home for the weekend and on Memorial Day. If you have a flagpole, there is a tradition of flying it at half- mast from dawn until noon in memory of all our fallen soldiers.
  3. Buy a Poppy
    During the days leading up to Memorial Day, members of the Veterans of Foreign Wars take donations for poppies. Disabled veterans hospitals have been assembling these poppies since 1924. The donations benefit veterans. Click here to learn more.
  4. Observe the National Moment of Remembrance
    During The National Moment of Remembrance, Americans, wherever they are, at 3 p.m., local time, on Memorial Day, will pause in a minute of silence in an act of national unity.
  5. Thank a Veteran or Active Duty Soldiers
    Memorial Day is about celebrating past soldiers, but the best way to show our appreciation is to give to our current veterans and service members. Consider making packages or writing a letter to someone serving overseas. To find out how or for more information click here.

At Chad’s, we would like to thank all past and current servicewomen and men that have protected our freedoms. We appreciate your sacrifice and we will never forget.