2013-05-23 / Editorial

Remember the history of our Memorial Day holiday

On Monday we will all celebrate Memorial Day. But do you know what the meaning is of this springtime national holiday?

Memorial Day has become a major holiday for many of us. The holiday, which unofficially designates the start of our summer season, is often celebrated across America with parades and cookouts. It is viewed by many of us as a day off from work and a time to re­lax with friends and family. We like to watch baseball games and enjoy the chance to take advantage of the warming 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 than 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 traditionally 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.

Enjoy the parade and all the festivities, but please take a few moments to remember those who made the greatest sacrifice for our country.

Those of us at the Jamestown Press wish all of our readers and advertisers a safe and enjoyable holiday weekend. We salute those men and women who are wearing our nation’s military uniforms in the defense of our country.

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