Today, Memorial Day is often celebrated by barbecues, parties, and gatherings at the beach. It is hailed as the unofficial start of summer, however in the midst of parties, good food, and good company, let us remember the true meaning of Memorial Day.
Memorial Day began following the end of the Civil War, with the first widely celebrated holiday occurring three years later in May of 1968. On this day people gathered and garnished the graves of over 20,000 Union and Confederate soldiers with flags and flowers. After World War 1, the holiday became a celebration of honor for those who died in all of America’s wars, as well as the veterans. Three years after a speech by President Reagan at Arlington National Cemetery – which was credited with reviving the meaning of Memorial Day – it became a nationally observed holiday in 1971.
“Today is the day we put aside to remember fallen heroes and to pray that no heroes will ever have to die for us again. It’s a day of thanks for the valor of others, a day to remember the splendor of America and those of her children who rest in this cemetery and others. It’s a day to be with the family and remember.”
– President Ronald Reagan, Memorial Day 1968