The last Monday in May is Memorial Day, a national holiday that commemorates the men and women who died while in the military service of their country. It is a time to remember our loved ones who have passed on.
Originally known as Decoration Day, the observance originated in the years following the Civil War, which ended in 1865. The first national cemeteries were established during the war and by the late 1860s Americans in various towns and cities had begun holding springtime tributes to the many fallen soldiers, decorating their graves with flowers and reciting prayers.
Historians say the first national commemoration of Memorial Day was on May 30, 1868, at Arlington National Cemetery. However, others believe one of the earliest commemorations was organized by Black men in Charleston, South Carolina on May 1, 1885, less than a month after the Confederacy surrendered.
Over the years, sites have made their claim on Memorial Day, but for all of us today it is a time to remember.
President John F. Kennedy suggested it may also be a time to act: “As we express our gratitude, we must never forget that the highest appreciation is not to utter words but to live by them.”