Is this a forgotten holiday?
I always knew that Memorial Day was created to remember those that served in the military, but I don’t know why and when it started—there had to be a zenith. This year I decided to do a little investigating into the holiday. I wanted to know the history and the sacredness of this day. I wanted to know what, exactly, to remember on Memorial Day.
History of Memorial Day
The origins of Memorial has been debated over the years. According to Memorialday.org, there are over 20 towns that claim to have originated Memorial Day, or Decoration Day as it was originally named. President Lyndon Johnson tried to end the debate in 1966 when he proclaimed that Waterloo, New York was the founding city of Decoration Day.
The oldest documented celebration of the holiday dates back to 1868 when General James Garfield proclaimed that the day would be celebrated at Arlington National Cemetery by decorating the graves of the Union and Confederate soldiers with flowers. Just a few years after the end of the Civil War, the idea that the Army would recognize both the Union and Confederate soldiers equally speaks to the sacredness of the uniform no matter which side adorned it.
Memorial Day Celebrated Today
In a small corner of Ohio where I grew up, Memorial Day meant grilling food with friends and the opening of boating and pool season. Even with family members that served in WWII, the Korean War and the Gulf War, the day being one of remembrance of those that served and gave the ultimate sacrifice was not readily apparent. Regardless of personal beliefs and the moralistic objections to war, the concept that a person can believe in an idea so resolutely that they would volunteer their life to see that idea live on beyond themselves is certainly deserving of a day of remembrance.