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Eden Alternative Tip of the Week: The Origins of Memorial Day

Remembrances are an important part of our lives. Many homes have remembrance or Memorial Gardens to honor those that are and have lived in the home. It is so important that we have a national holiday to honor those who have died in the service of this county and we call it Memorial Day. Do you know the origins of this annual holiday?

Memorial Day was originally called Decoration Day. It was a remembrance to those who died during the Civil War. It is difficult to pinpoint exactly which community spurred the idea of Memorial Day, but the practice had become commonplace enough that General John Logan, from the General Army of the Republic, gave the original proclamation to establish Memorial day on May 5, 1868 and it was first celebrated on May 30th that same year. The first state to officially recognize the holiday was New York in 1873 and by 1890 all the northern states had adopted the holiday. The Southern states continue to have their own dates to celebrate their Civil War dead. After World War I, all the states adopted Memorial Day as an official holiday as a remembrance of those who have died in our nation’s service.

In 1971, Memorial Day was moved from May 30th each year to the last Monday of May. That created a three-day holiday weekend which some feels has diminished the significance of the holiday itself.

In 1915, a woman named Moina Michaels conceived the idea to wear red poppies on Memorial Day. She would wear a poppy and then sold them to others to raise money to benefit servicemen in need. The VFW adopted the practice in 1922.

This Memorial Day, take a moment to remember those who have died in the service of this country and share stories with the Elders about what the holiday means to them. In December 2000 a resolution was passed called the National Moment of Remembrance. It states that at 3:00pm local time on Memorial Day, all Americans should “voluntarily and informally observe in their own way a moment of remembrance and respect, pausing from whatever they are doing for a moment of silence or listening to taps.”

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