Memorial Day – May 30, 2022

This is a Federal holiday in the United States. The purpose is to mourn the U. S. military personnel who have died while serving in the military branches. Memorial Day is observed on the last Monday of May. In prior years, from 1868 to 1970 Memorial Day was always on May 30th.

After the end of the American Civil War, a special day was observed and called ‘Decoration Day’. Starting in 1865, Southern women decorated the graves of soldiers even before the Civil War’s end. Records show that by 1865, Mississippi, Virginia, and South Carolina also remembered those who died in the war.

In May 1865 in Charleston, South Carolina, recently freed African-Americans held a parade of 10,000 people to honor 257 dead Union soldiers, whose remains they had reburied from a mass grave in a Confederate prison camp.

In April 1866, four women of Columbus, Mississippi gathered together to decorate the graves of the Confederate soldiers. They also felt moved to honor the Union soldiers buried there and to note the grief of their families, by decorating their graves as well.

By May 5, 1868, General John A. Logan issued a proclamation calling for “Decoration Day” to be observed annually and all across the nation. Logan was the commander-in-chief of the Grand Army of the Republic. By 1868, memorial events were held in 183 cemeteries in 27 states, and 336 in 1869. In 1871, Michigan made Decoration Day an official state holiday and by 1890, every northern state had followed suit. By the 1880s, ceremonies were becoming more consistent across geography as the GAR provided handbooks that presented specific procedures, poems, and Bible verses for local post commanders to utilize in planning the local event.

By the 20th century, various Union memorial traditions, celebrated on different days, merged, and Memorial Day eventually extended to honor all Americans who died while in the U.S. military service.

In June 1968, the US Congress moved Memorial Day from its traditional May 30 date to the last Monday in May. The law took effect at the federal level in 1971.

Across the United States, the central event on Memorial Day is attending one of the thousands of parades held in large and small cities. Always veterans are in big attendance. Also the names of local soldiers who died while in military service are named and honored.

It is just not a holiday from work but a proud tradition in many communities. Become part of that tradition.

Photo: A portion of the larger annual Memorial Day Parade in Stuart, Fl.

Related Blogs:

A Civil War Veteran on your Family Tree

Ancestors – Part of World War One

Korean War Veterans

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