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Memorial Day 2020

Memorial Day will be observed on Monday, May 25, 2020.  It is a Federal holiday observed on the last Monday in May, and commemorates the men and women who died while in the military service.

Pay tribute to the U.S. men and women who died during military service by observing a national moment of remembrance with a minute of silence at 3:00 PM local time.

Memorial Day History

Memorial Day began sometime after the Civil War with both formal and informal ceremonies at graves and ceremonies for the soldiers who had fallen in battle. Many places claim to be the birthplace of Memorial Day in 1866, including Waterloo, New York and both Macon and Columbus, Georgia.  On May 5, 1868, the Grand Army of the Republic (GAR), a Union veterans organization, established Decoration Day, May 30, as a time for the nation to decorate the dead with flowers. Arlington National Cemetery held the first large observance later that year.

By the end of the 19th century, Memorial Day ceremonies were being held throughout the country on May 30.  Over time, the Army and Navy adopted policies for proper observances, and state legislatures passed proclamations designating the day. After World War I the day was expanded to honor those who died in all American wars, and in 1971, Memorial Day was declared a national holiday to be celebrated on the last Monday in May.

Memorial Day Versus Veterans Day

Memorial Day is meant for remembering and honoring military personnel who died in the service of their country, particularly those who died in battle, or as a result of a wound sustained in battle.

Memorial Day Facts

  • Memorial Day was originally known as Decoration Day.

  • The birthplace of Memorial Day is a debated topic. Cities such as Warrington, Virginia; Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, Savannah, Georgia and Waterloo, New York are some localities believe to be the birthplace.

  • Memorial Day was originally celebrated on May 30 until the Uniform Monday Holiday Act took effect in 1971 and it was moved to the final Monday in May.

  • 1971 is also when Memorial Day became an official holiday.

  • Originally, only soldiers who had died in the Civil War were honored.

  • The National Monument of Remembrance Act passed in 2000 requires all Americans to stop what they are doing at 3:00 pm on Memorial Day for a minute of silence to remember and honor those who died while in service.

  • The Poem “Bivouac of the Dead” is often recited on Memorial Day and inscribed on iron tablets throughout many of the country’s national cemeteries including the original entrance to Arlington National Cemetery. The poem was written by Theodore O’Hara to honor his fellow soldiers from Kentucky who died in the Mexican-American War. Bivouac (/ˈbivo͞oˌak/) – A temporary camp without tents or cover.

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