By: Laurie A. McCarthy, Esquire
Date: May 22, 2020
Memorial Day is an American holiday, observed on the last Monday of May, honoring the men and women who died while serving in the U.S. military. This holiday is typically filled with parades and ceremonies to honor those who made the ultimate sacrifice while defending our country. Memorial Day is also considered to be the unofficial start of summer, so many Americans host barbeques or head to the beach for the long weekend.
But due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, this Memorial Day will look quite different, with most events being held virtually, or canceled altogether; however, this change should not stop Americans from honoring those who died for our freedom.
Here are five interesting facts about Memorial Day, the last of which involves a wonderful way to honor these men and women who died while serving in the U.S. military.
- Memorial Day was born out of necessity.
After the American Civil War (1861-1865), a battered United States was faced with the task of burying and honoring the 600,000 to 800,000 Union and Confederate soldiers who had died in the single bloodiest military conflict in American history. The Civil War required the establishment of the country’s first national cemeteries. The immense loss of life sparked several spontaneous commemorations of the dead.
2. One of the earliest commemorations was organized by recently freed slaves.
In Charleston, South Carolina, just three weeks after the Confederate surrender, more than 1,000 recently freed slaves gathered to consecrate a proper burial site for the deceased Union soldiers
3. Americans began holding springtime tributes to the fallen soldiers.
Americans honored the fallen soldiers by decorating their graves with flowers and reciting prayers. One of the first of those commemorations was in 1864, when women from Boalsburg, Pennsylvania placed flowers on the graves of the soldiers who lost their lives in the Battle of Gettysburg. By the late 1860s, Americans in various towns and cities began holding springtime tributes to the countless fallen soldiers, decorating their graves with flowers and reciting prayers. The first national commemoration of Memorial Day was held in Arlington National Cemetery on May 30, 1868, where both Union and Confederate soldiers are buried.
4. Union General John A. Logan founded the holiday.
Although Americans were already decorating graves of fallen Civil War soldiers in an unofficial way, General Logan codified the holiday. “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,” he famously said. According to legend, May 30ths was selected because it was not the anniversary of any particular battle.
5. The National Moment of Remembrance Act
In the year 2000, Congress passed the National Moment of Remembrance Act, which requires all Americans to stop what they are doing at 3:00 p.m. on Memorial Day and pause for a moment of silence to remember and honor those who died while serving the United States.
The Law Firm of DiOrio & Sereni, LLP is a full-service law firm in Media, Delaware County, Pennsylvania. We strive to help people, businesses and institutions throughout Southeastern Pennsylvania solve legal problems – and even prevent legal problems before they occur. To learn more about the full range of our specific practice areas, please visit www.dioriosereni.com or contact Laurie A. McCarthy, Esquire at 610-565-5700 or at [email protected]
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