A Nation Remembers Those Who Gave Their Lives This Memorial Day

“Your silent tents of green we deck with fragrant flowers;

Yours has the suffering been,the memory shall be ours.”

–Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

Did You Know That? : 

Three years after the Civil War ended, on May 5, 1868, the head of the Grand Army of the Republic (GAR) established Decoration Day as a time for the nation to decorate the graves of the war dead with flowers. Maj. Gen. John A. Logan declared that Decoration Day should be observed on May 30. This date was chosen because flowers would be in bloom all over the country.

The first Memorial day was first celebrated on May 30, 1868. It was observed by placing flowers on the graves of Union and Confederate soldiers during the first national celebration. Gen. James Garfield made a speech at Arlington National Cemetery, after which around 5,000 participants helped to decorate the graves of the more than 20,000 Union and Confederate soldiers who were buried there.

In 1915, inspired by the poem “In Flanders Fields,” Moina Michael replied with her own poem. She then came up with an idea of wearing red poppies on Memorial day in honor of those who died serving the nation during war. She was the first to wear one, and sold poppies to her friends and co-workers with the money going to benefit servicemen in need.

Since the late 1950’s on the Thursday just before the Memorial day, around 1200 soldiers of the 3rd U.S. Infantry place small American flags at each of the more than 260,000 gravestones at Arlington National Cemetery. They then patrol 24 hours a day during the weekend to ensure that each flag remains standing.

In 1951, the Boy Scouts and Cub Scouts of St. Louis began placing flags on the 150,000 graves at Jefferson Barracks National Cemetery as an annual Good Turn, a practice that continues to this day.

Gen. John Alexander Logan ordered the Memorial Day holiday to be observed by decorating the war dead.

On Memorial Day, the flag should be at half-staff until noon only, then raised to the top of the staff.

“Taps” is often played at ceremonies on Memorial Day.

Memorial Day was first called “Decoration Day” because of the practice of decorating soldier’s graves with flowers.

New York was the 1st state to officially recognize Memorial Day.

The south refused to honor the dead on Memorial Day until after World War I when the meaning of Memorial Day changed from honoring civil war dead to honoring Americans who died fighting in any war.

Memorial Day was declared a federal holiday in 1971.

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