Happy Memorial Day
Memorial Day Then & Now
While the first commemorative Memorial Day events weren’t held in the United States until the late 19th Century, the practice of honoring those who have fallen in battle dates back thousands of years. It was the Ancient Greeks & Romans who practiced remembrance for their loved ones and soldiers each year. One of the first public tributes to war dead was in 431BC when an Athenian general and statesman, Pericles, delivered a funeral oration praising the sacrifice and valor of those killed in the Peloponnesian War. A speech that some have compared in tone to Abraham Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address.
In May 1868, General John A. Logan, the commander-in-chief of the Union veterans’ group known as the grand Army of the Republic, issued a decree that May 30th should become a nationwide day of commemoration for the more than 620,000 soldiers killed in the recently ended Civil War. On “Decoration Day” as it was named at the end of the civil war in 1865, Americans should lay flowers and decorate the graves of the war dead “whose bodies now lie in almost every city, village and hamlet churchyard in the land”.
For almost as long as there’s been a holiday, there’s been a rivalry about who celebrated it first. Boalsburg, Pennsylvania, bases its claim on an 1864 gathering of women to mourn those recently killed at Gettysburg. In Carbondale, Illinois, they’re certain that they were first, thanks to an 1866 parade led, in part, by John Logan who two years later would lead the charge for an official holiday. There are even two dueling Columbus challengers (one in Mississippi, the other in Georgia) who have battled it out for Memorial Day supremacy for decades. Only one town, however, has received the official seal of approval from the U.S. government. In 1966, 100 years after the town of Waterloo, New York, shuttered its businesses and took to the streets for the first of many continuous, community-wide celebrations, President Lyndon Johnson signed legislation, recently passed by the U.S. Congress, declaring the tiny upstate village the “official” birthplace of Memorial Day. Regardless of who was first, it is important that we remember the reason we are able to retain our precious freedom and we also remember, as a nation, we have been able to be an example for the rest of the world of what freedom means, because of the men and women who gave the ultimate sacrifice for the rest of us.
Memorial Day became a federal holiday in 1971. This was a long road from Decoration Day to the official Memorial Day.
We at Three Blooms Boutique Wish you and yours a blessed Memorial Day Holiday.