Memorial Day is the official start of summer with cook-outs, family gatherings and parades, but it is so much more than that. It also gives us a chance to thank those who have served our country, both living and deceased. People from all walks of life have loved ones who have served our great country. Today is also a great day to be thankful to those men and women for all they have given us in order for us to live our lives as we do every day.
What we now know as Memorial Day can trace its roots back to Decoration Day, as it was called when it first began in 1868. Its beginnings are somewhat unclear, since at least 12 towns across the country claim they introduced it. What is known for sure, is that our country came together to celebrate those who lost their lives in the Civil War, as many as 620,000 to 750,000 by recent accounts. That massive loss is more than all other American wars combined. Memorial Day was really created from a nation who was grieving rather than a specific town, person or region. It took more than 100 years for it to become an official holiday, since it was not made a federal holiday until 1971.
What many people do not realize is that half of the soldiers who lost their lives in the Civil War were not identified because in those days there were no dog tags or next of kin notification like we have today. It was also a different time, when those types of deaths were not discussed due to the inappropriateness of the subject matter. So, Memorial Day (Decoration Day as it was called then) allowed for those who lost loved ones to grieve and come together with others who also lost loved ones. They would visit grave sites, decorate the graves and recite prayers. From there, it grew and over time became what we know today as Memorial Day with parades and other festivities. Today, some of the largest parades are in Chicago, New York and Washington D.C.
I’d like to thank all the military men and women who have given of themselves, without you we would be an entirely different country and not be the best place in the whole world to live. Thank you!