For many Americans, thoughts of Memorial Day center on picnics, parades, and perhaps an extra day off work or school, and while these activities are important facets of the day, they don’t speak to its true purpose: the remembrance of those who sacrificed so much for us, helping to create the freedoms we enjoy today. More than just the unofficial start of summer and an opportunity to fire up the grill, Memorial Day is a call to remember the men and women who gave their lives in service to the United States of America, a call that we at Senior Lifestyle are proud to answer as we honor those who’ve served and sacrificed.
Originally named Decoration Day, Memorial Day was first conceived as a solemn day of honor for Civil War dead, proclaimed on May 5, 1868 by national commander of the Grand Army of the Republic General John Logan, the date chosen particularly because it did not fall on the anniversary of any specific battle. In his proclamation on the date of Decoration Day, Logan stated, “The 30th of May, 1868, is designated for the purpose of strewing with flowers, or otherwise decorating the graves of comrades who died in defense of their country during the late rebellion, and whose bodies now lie in almost every city, village and hamlet churchyard in the land.”
While there is some confusion as to when and where Memorial Day actually began, New York was the first state to recognize the holiday in 1873, with all northern states following by 1890. At the close of World War I, the holiday transformed from a day to honor Civil War dead to a day to honor all Americans who died fighting any war. The National Holiday Act of 1971 established our current Memorial Day, falling on the last Monday in May. Additionally, in December of 2000, a “National Moment of Remembrance” resolution was passed. This resolution asks that at 3 pm local time all Americans “voluntarily and informally observe in their own way a Moment of Remembrance and respect, pausing from whatever they are doing for a moment of silence or listening to Taps.”
Enjoy your Memorial Day weekend! Catch up with friends, eat a perfectly grilled burger and make the most of your extra day off, but remember the origin of the holiday, and perhaps take a moment around three in the afternoon to reflect on the sacrifices of many to secure our freedom. While you’ll most certainly find picnics and parties happening at Senior Lifestyle communities this Memorial Day weekend, look a bit closer and you’ll also see the pride shown by residents, staff and families in honoring those who sacrificed so much in the name of freedom. Senior Lifestyle salutes the men and women who gave their all for us and we wish you a safe and enjoyable Memorial Day!