For many of us, Memorial Day is a three-day weekend and the beginning of summer. And, it is a time to barbecue with family and friends.
However, there is much more to Memorial Day than that.
These facts may provide some perspective on this important day.
Five Facts About Memorial Day
- Memorial Day Began with the Civil War: Memorial Day was a response to the unprecedented carnage of the Civil War, in which about 620,000 soldiers on both sides died. The loss of life and its effect on communities throughout the country led to spontaneous commemorations of the dead, from putting flowers on graves and gathering in cemeteries to marching in remembrance.
- Decoration Day: Memorial Day was called Decoration Day because people decorated graves with flowers, wreaths, and flags. It wasn’t until 1967 that Federal law declared “Memorial Day” the official name.
- James Garfield’s Finest Hour-And-A-Half: On May 30, 1868, President Ulysses S. Grant presided over the first Memorial Day ceremony at Arlington National Cemetery, which until 1864, was Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee’s plantation. The principal speaker was James A. Garfield, a Civil War general, republican congressman from Ohio, and future president. He said, “If silence is ever golden, it must be beside the graves of fifteen thousand men, whose lives were more significant than speech, and whose death was a poem, the music of which can never be sung.”
- Rolling Thunder: On Memorial Day weekend hundreds of thousands of motorcyclists ride to Washington, D.C. for the Rolling Thunder rally. Their goal is to bring attention to Vietnam War soldiers who are still missing in action or prisoners of war. The national veterans’ rights group, Rolling Thunder, takes its name from the B-52 carpet-bombing runs made during the war in Vietnam.
- Memorial Day Traditions: Since 1911, the Indianapolis 500 always was scheduled in conjunction with Memorial Day. Through 1970, it ran on Memorial Day – May 30 – regardless of the day of the week, excepting Sunday. In those cases it took place on Monday, May 31. After the Uniform Monday Holiday Act took effect in 1971, the race was scheduled as part of the three-day Memorial Day weekend.
From all of us at DELIA’S Cleaners, happy Memorial Day.