Every year, we celebrate Memorial Day. We think about the men and women who have served our nation and paid the ultimate sacrifice. But how many are familiar with the origins of Memorial Day?
After the ending of the Civil War, many began to gather to remember the lives that were lost and to decorate the graves with flowers. While not all of the graves were marked with names, and some were a mix of Union and Confederate soldiers, each grave was decorated, and the life that was lost mourned. Over time, monuments were erected to commemorate the men, and small celebrations were held across different towns in the nation.
Memorial Day was originally known as Decoration Day and began after the ending of the Civil War. It was changed to Memorial Day after World War I. In the years after the ending of the Civil War, small celebrations were held to remember the lives lost, place flowers upon the graves, and to remember the sacrifices made. The first ever Memorial Day was held after the ending of the Civil War by a group of freed slaves in South Carolina.
As the United States became involved in more conflicts, such as the World Wars, the day was expanded to include the men and women who lost their lives during the wars. In 1971, it was designated as a federal holiday. At 3:30 each Memorial Day, there is a moment of silence held, but no one knows where this tradition began.
Throughout the history of the United States, thousands have given their lives. While we may not know all of their names, we remain thankful for their service and sacrifice.
“Never throughout history has a man who lived a life of ease left a name worth remembering.”
President Theodore Roosevelt