Memorial Day weekend is routinely one of BBQ’s, family get together’s, and days off work. But the real reason behind Memorial day is much more than a vacation day off. The sacrifices of the soldiers who have given their all to bravely defend our country demands more than just passing recognition.
Following the end of the Civil War, Declaration Day was celebrated. It was set for a day where there had not been a major battle, so as not to distinguish one side over the other, but to bring together the North and the South, and honor all the men who had died fighting for their country. On the first Declaration Day, General James Garfield gave a speech at Arlington National Cemetery honoring the 20,000 men that were buried there, both Northern and Southern soldiers. It was a time to draw the country back together and honor the sacrifices that both sides had made, including the ultimate sacrifice.
With the outbreak of World War I, it was decided that instead of just honoring those who died in the Civil War, it would be expanded to include those who were giving their own sacrifice in the consecutive wars that America would face. Memorial Day was firmly established in 1971, with 1968 seeing Congress pass the Uniform Monday Holiday Act, but it was not until 1971 that it became the last Monday in May as a National Holiday.
Today, we salute the men and women who have paid the ultimate sacrifice for our Nation. We honor their memory and their unselfish patriotism which, through the years have defended our Constitution and National ideals. To each family who has given a loved one for the defense of our Nation, we say Thank You! Words can never fully describe the thankfulness and gratitude that we feel, and the sadness that we carry as we mourn and celebrate those who have given their all for our country.