The custom of honoring ancestors by cleaning cemeteries and decorating graves is an ancient and worldwide tradition, but the specific origin of Memorial Day, or Decoration Day as it was first known, are unclear.
In early rural America, this duty was usually performed in late summer and was an occasion for family reunions and picnics. After the Civil War, America’s need for a secular, patriotic ceremony to honor its military dead became prominent, as monuments to fallen soldiers were erected and dedicated, and ceremonies centering on the decoration of soldiers’ graves were held in towns and cities throughout the nation.
After World War I, the day expanded to honor those who have died in all America wars.
No less than 25 places have been named in connection with the origin of Memorial Day, and states observed the holiday on different dates.
In 1971, Memorial Day became a national holiday by an act of Congress; it is now celebrated on the last Monday in May.
We will be putting out our flags on Saturday May 24, and we need volunteers to help. Let Sue or Jody know if you are available.