“THE MUFFLED drum’s sad roll has beat
The soldier’s last tattoo; No more on Life’s parade shall meet
That brave and fallen few.
On Fame’s eternal camping-ground
Their silent tents are spread,
And Glory guards, with solemn round,
The bivouac of the dead.”
Bivouac Of The Dead, by Theodore O’Hara
On May 5, 1868, three years after the conclusion of the Civil War, the Grand Army of the Republic established Decoration Day, a time for the nation to remember those fallen in the war by decorating the honorary graves with flowers. Maj. Gen. John A. Logan declared Decoration Day would be observed on May 30, as flowers would be in bloom throughout the whole nation at this time. While citizens everywhere, each in their own way, joined in the remembrance of their fallen soldiers, it wasn’t until 1866 that Memorial Day was born. It was in Waterloo, NY, on May 5, 1966, that Congress and President Lyndon Johnson held a ceremony honoring local veterans who fought in the Civil War. By the end of the 19th century, Memorial Day ceremonies were being held throughout the nation.
After the conclusion of World War I, Memorial Day was expanded to encompass and honor every soldier who lost his or her life in any American war. Ultimately, in 1971 by an act of Congress, Memorial Day was declared a national holiday, though it is still occasionally referred to as Decoration Day.
Hot dogs and hamburgers, fireworks and fun; whether you are taking to the water for a day of fishing, or enjoying a cook-out with family and friends, don’t forget to take a moment to remember the true meaning of Memorial Day:
“We should guard their graves with sacred vigilance. … Let pleasant paths invite the coming and going of reverent visitors and fond mourners. Let no neglect, no ravages of time, testify to the present or to the coming generations that we have forgotten as a people the cost of a free and undivided republic.” –Maj. Gen. John A. Logan