Memorial Day is the first official sign of spring for many- however, it is much more than that. The observance of Memorial Day, typically the last Monday in May, provides people widely the opportunity to pay tribute to those that gave their life for their country. This holiday dates back to the late 19th century, however, civilizations and populations have been setting aside time to honor their dead for centuries- originally documented in Greek and Roman culture.
What are you planning for the Memorial Day holiday this year? It is common to celebrate with picnics, cookouts, parades- as well as by maintaining and enhancing the graves, sites, and cemeteries of fallen soldiers and service personnel. So, why is it important to observe Memorial Day? Historically, Memorial Day is one of the most meaningful remembrances, paying homage to those that didn’t return from battles and war, but did you know that one of the earliest Memorial Day was organized by a group of over 1,000 recently freed slaves back in 1865?
How will you honor Memorial Day this year? Do something meaningful, including helping someone who has served; from providing accessibility through mobility aids to simply spending a few moments engaged in conversation, take time to honor a veteran this year.
History of the Observance
The history of Memorial Day in the US begins with the loss of around 600,000 soldiers during the Civil War. General John A. Logan, who was the commander-in-chief of the Grand Army of the Republic, a Union veterans association, decreed that May 30th should be set aside for commemorating the lives lost in the war. Logan asserted that this day should be a chance for all Americans to lay flowers and decorate the gravesites of the casualties of the Civil War. There is some dispute regarding why this day in May was selected and it remains a point of debate: some say it is due to the fact that this day did not fall on or commemorate any of the war’s battles while others believe it was due to the fact that the flowers are in peak season and full bloom to be placed upon the graves.
Still, this tradition began prior to General Logan’s decree, as in April 1886, the Ladies Memorial Association of Columbus, Georgia, began commemorating the graves of fallen soldiers with flowers and wreaths- which may have spurred Logan to action. Whether this was the impetus for the future celebration of the lives that fought for our freedoms or not, it became an annual tradition that provided a way to pay homage to the many soldiers who lost their lives.
This historic observance was not always known as Memorial Day; first, it was called ‘Decoration Day’, which pays tribute to the decorating of the graves of soldiers that died in the war. Decoration Day was first observed on May 30, 1868, at Arlington National Cemetery. Flowers and wreaths were placed on the burial sites of those Confederate and Union soldiers buried there. It would not become Memorial Day until around a century later, through a federal mandate and law. The Uniform Monday Holiday Act of 1968 moved the date of Memorial Day from its widely accepted observance on May 30th to the last Monday in May- which is when it is still celebrated today.
A Federal Holiday
Memorial Day first became a federal holiday in 1971, despite being celebrated for many years prior. While many states claim to be the first to honor and celebrate this significant day, Waterloo New York is considered the birthplace of Memorial Day, as well as the conventional celebratory picnics and parades that are widely seen today. In fact, Waterloo received the official seal of approval from the US Government, and then-President Lyndon Johnson, as being the birthplace of Memorial Day in this country.
The red poppy has become a symbol of this holiday and has been dubbed an official remembrance due to the sight of these flowers during the bloody Second Battle of Ypres in France in 1915. This paradoxical sight of beauty amid war inspired the poem, “In Flanders Field,” which pays homage to the soldiers killed and buried amid these poppies on the battlefield. Later, a teacher in Georgia began a campaign to promote the poppy as the official symbol for all who died in war which it still is.
Some other contemporary rituals for Memorial Day include flying flags at half-mast to honor those that died, as well as a National Moment of Remembrance at 3 pm. How will you celebrate this very- important day this year?
Honor those that have served this Memorial Day. For assistance with mobility aids and accessibility, speak with the team at Pacific Mobility; we are your mobility expert in Southern California. Call to learn more today!
President, Husband, Father, Grandfather Graduate of UC Davis- Bio Sci Major- Go Aggies! Jeff has extensive experience in all of Pacific Mobility’s products and services, and specializes in accessibility products as well as stairlifts, ceiling lifts and custom wheel chairs. His hobbies include spending time with family, gardening, mountain biking, exercising and off road motorcycle riding.
24 years as Owner/President of Pacific Mobility Center – selling, installing, and servicing stairlifts, porch lifts, ceiling lifts, pool lifts, handicap ramping, specialty wheelchairs, scooters, power wheel chairs, and other power mobility devices
Certified Environmental Access Consultant since 2008
Licensed General Contractor since 1998
Certified Aging in Place Specialist since 2016
Board Member for Home Access Professionals
Member of Association of Members of the Accessibility Equipment Industry (AEMA)