Lois Eisenberg | On the Origins of Memorial Day

Letters to the Editor
Letters to the Editor

Again a very important holiday is upon us: Memorial Day being celebrated on Monday, May 27.

Memorial Day is one of America’s most observed holidays. Memorial Day is observed on the last Monday in May and it is a very significant holiday because it honors the men and women who gave their lives while serving in the United States military.

Memorial Day, which was originally Decoration Day, was so named to honor the fallen soldiers in the Civil War. In 1971 Memorial Day became an official federal holiday.

In observance of Memorial Day, Americans visit cemeteries, have parades, picnics, family gatherings and Memorial Day officially marks the beginning of summer. 

In 1968 Congress passed and President Lyndon B. Johnson signed the Uniform Holiday Act. This legislation established the observance of Memorial Day on the last Monday in May, giving the American people a three day holiday weekend. Memorial Day “will ensure that the United States will never forget those who died in the armed forces, far from family, home and the country for which they served.”

On May 30, 1868, James A. Garfield a former general and future U.S. president, so aptly addressed a crowd of 5,000 gathered at Arlington National Cemetery commemorating the first Decoration Day, and this first annual address by Garfield set a standard by explaining why Memorial Day should be commemorated, and I quote: 

“Hither our children’s children shall come to pay their tribute of grateful homage. For this we met today. By the happy suggestion of a great society, assemblies like this are gathering at this hour in every state in the union.”

To one and all have a memorable and safe Memorial Day.

Lois Eisenberg


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