2012-05-24 / Editorial

A somber reflection on Memorial Day

Memorial Day has become a festive holiday for many of us. The holiday, which has come to unoffi cially mark the beginning of the summer, is often celebrated across America with parades and cookouts. It is viewed as a day off from work, a time to relax and enjoy the warm weather.

But Memorial Day has a more somber side.

Observed on the last Monday in May, Memorial Day was set aside to honor our nation’s men and women who died while serving our country in the U.S. military.

Memorial Day was originally called Decoration Day, a tradition that was established in the years following the Civil War. More citizens were killed in the Civil War that in any other conflict involving the United States After the war people in the towns and cities across the country began honoring their dead each spring by visiting cemeteries and decorating the graves of the fallen soldiers with flowers and flags.

At first the observances were informal, but soon there was a call for a nationwide observance. The first national Decoration Day was held in 1868. The holiday was observed on May 30.

After World War I the holiday evolved to honor the dead from other conflicts. The holiday gradually became known as Memorial Day.

In 1971, the Uniform Holiday Act took effect. Enacted by Congress, the last Monday in May was set aside for the Memorial Day observance as a federal holiday.

In Jamestown on this Memorial Day we will observe the holiday with a traditional parade down Narragansett Avenue and a short ceremony at the Veterans Memorial Square at East Ferry. Please take a few moments to remember those who made the greatest sacrifice for our country.

– Jeff McDonough

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