In 1971, the last Monday in May, Memorial Day, was declared a Federal Holiday, and since then, has become the unofficial start to summer, but Memorial Day is about much more than backyard barbecues and wearing white.
Memorial Day was established to recognize the sacrifice of over 1.5 million Americans who have given their lives to secure our freedom, a freedom we pride ourselves on enjoying by living life to the fullest and pursuing our passions here at Verrado and The Victory District.
Read on to learn more about the history of this holiday and ways you can honor our veterans this Memorial Day, May 26.
Memorial Day Facts
1. Memorial Day was originally known as “Decoration Day”, a day to decorate the graves of those who had died in the Civil War. It was only after World War I that it became a day to remember Americans who had died in all military conflicts, foreign and domestic.
2. May 30, 1868 was the first official “Decoration Day” as declared by General John A. Logan, the national commander of the Grand Army of the Republic, an organization of Union veterans, and was chosen since the day did not fall on the anniversary of any specific battles.
3. In 1873, New York was the first state to recognize “Decoration Day” and all Northern states followed suit by 1890.
4. In 1966, Congress and President Johnson granted Waterloo, NY the honor of being the “birthplace” of Memorial Day. Waterloo, which first celebrated a memorial day May 5, 1866, was noted for holding an official celebration with closed businesses and flags flown at half staff.
5. In 2000, Congress and President Clinton passed the “The National Moment of Remembrance Act” which established a National Moment of Remembrance “encouraging individual department and agency personnel, and Americans everywhere, to pause for one minute at 3:00 p.m. (local time) on Memorial Day, to remember and reflect on the sacrifices made by so many to provide freedom for all.”
Read more about the history of Memorial Day at the History Channel, USMemorialDay.org, or the U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs.
Honoring Memorial Day
Fly the Flag
On Memorial Day, the flag is flown at half staff until noon to recognize those who have died in service to their country. The flag is then raised to full staff in their memory by the living who resolve to maintain their commitment to freedom.
Participate in the National Moment of Remembrance
At 3pm local time, take a moment of silent contemplation to thank those who have served and current serve our country.
Attend the Memorial Day Ceremony at the National Memorial Cemetery of Arizona
The National Ceremony of Arizona, located in Phoenix, holds a yearly Memorial Day Ceremony at the Memorial Stage area. This year’s ceremony begins at 8am and includes a keynote speaker, a military honors presentation, and a group fold, presentation of the flag, and playing of taps. Last year’s keynote speaker was then Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano.
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