This particular holiday was first observed (depending upon local tradition) either in the South as local women would decorate the graves of Confederate dead as early as 1861 while in the North on May 05th, 1868, General John A. Logan, then commander-in-chief of the Grand Army of the Potomac issued a proclamation calling for a “Decoration Day” to be observed nationally each year. The date picked for such observances was May 30th, not in commemoration of any particular battle, but that it was felt that wherever you lived in the United States, flowers would be in bloom enabling such decoration of the graves of the fallen of the Civil War.
Since that time the appellation of Memorial Day has been adopted with the intent of remembering all of those who have given the ultimate sacrifice in all of our nation’s wars, becoming a federally observed holiday in 1967, moving the day from the traditional May 30th to the last Monday of May. This change seems to have cheapened the observance, shifting it away from the intended day of solemn remembrance and making it a day of frivolity and the beginning of the summer vacation season.
The nonchalance with which the average American approaches Memorial Day is a source of pain for me and many of those who know someone who has died as a result (direct or indirect) of their service to our nation. My plea to all Americans is to at least spend a few minutes in gratitude to the men and women who have paid with their blood the price of freedom. I’ll be visiting a friend who is in a local cemetery; just an annual ritual with little or no meaning except for those of us who do remember.