ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel

What’s the Deal about Memorial Day?: The History Behind Memorial Day

Updated on May 21, 2014
Graves at Arlington on Memorial Day
Graves at Arlington on Memorial Day | Source
World War II Memorial Day Flag
World War II Memorial Day Flag | Source

Is this scenario familiar to you?

“Yes Memorial Day is finally here!!! Meaning a three-day weekend! Time to relax, catch on some zzz’s; watch some TV, maybe head to the beach with some friends. Dad will be firing up some sexy barbeque ribs on the grill” Yes!!!

Thank You America and our Founding Fathers for this holiday (even though I’m not exactly sure why I have the day off? Wait was it our Founding Fathers that created Memorial Day or was it a president? Probably Abraham Lincoln or Franklin Roosevelt or probably his “father” Teddy Roosevelt. While on the subject why do we even celebrate Memorial Day?”

Why do we celebrate Memorial Day? No it’s not a preview for summer vacation or a testing day to see if our grills and sunscreen work. And for you conspiracy theorists it’s not some Government gimmick to encourage people sublimely to join the navy. I can’t speak for every American and I don’t know how many “Americans” know the history behind Memorial Day. This hub is meant to give you the brief history of Memorial Day. Hopefully this article will clear up a few things.

Confederate Memorial at the Alabama State Capitol
Confederate Memorial at the Alabama State Capitol | Source

Memorial Day is a day to remember and honor Americans who have died while serving our nation. It was originally called Decoration Day, and the actual origins of this day are up for debate.

Even so, it first began around the end of the Civil war on May 30th 1868 to honor the fallen soldiers. Observers decorated and placed flowers on the graves of Union and Confederate soldiers at Arlington National Cemetery.


Memorial Day used to be called Decoration Day
Memorial Day used to be called Decoration Day | Source

Though it started in 1868, it wasn't until 1971 under the National Holiday Act passed by Congress that it was officially and nationally recognized as a holiday; celebrated on the last Monday of May. The reason it took so long for this holiday to be recognized was because the Confederate South (southern U.S. states) refused to accept this date and created its own versions of this holiday.

Moina Michael Commemorative Postage Stamp
Moina Michael Commemorative Postage Stamp | Source
California Poppies in Bloom
California Poppies in Bloom | Source

In time refusal died down and slowly but surely Memorial Day became part of the honorary American sentiment. This sentiment includes a poem written by Moina Michael that reads:

We cherish too, the Poppy red

That grows on fields where valor led,

It seems to signal to the skies

That blood of heroes never dies.

Moina Michael also came up with the idea of wearing red poppy flowers (poppies) to honor those who have died while serving war. She created a business first selling it to friends and it spiral to a worldwide tradition.

Normandy American Cemetery and Memorial
Normandy American Cemetery and Memorial | Source

More recently other traditions other than poppies and putting flags on graves, have been establish. Congress created the National Moment of Remembrance Resolution in 2000. This act asks that at 3pm on Memorial Day to observe a moment of silence or listening to Taps, the official theme music of this day.

So you now know the general history and importance of Memorial Day. Hopefully this knowledge will make it harder for this holiday to be taken for granted. And if you do take this holiday for granted Moina Michael will rise from her grave and beat you with her red poppies. Yes I’m trying to make you feel guilty for wanting to go to the beach or catching up on some sleep or munch on your dad’s famous barbeque ribs.

A proud American flag on a cross at Normandy American Cemetery
A proud American flag on a cross at Normandy American Cemetery | Source

The last sentences were obviously a joke; though this statement is not: Have fun Be safe and Keep in Mind the Veterans!!!

And they who for their country die shall fill an honored grave, for glory lights the soldier’s tomb, and beauty weeps the brave. ~Joseph Drake

Golden Gate National Cemetery Memorial Day mound
Golden Gate National Cemetery Memorial Day mound | Source

What Will You Do This Memorial Day?

See results

What does Memorial Day mean to you?

See results

Comments

Submit a Comment

  • danicole profile image
    Author

    danicole 3 years ago from United States

    This is so true, but what can you do? Its up to people to realize that people need help, year round. We have to be better to ourselves and to others. Thanks for reading my hub and commenting!!!!

  • profile image

    Flagandbanner 3 years ago

    I work for a flag company and Memorial Day is one of the times where we sell lots of stick flags for grave markers. It is sad that we don't sell them more year round. It is a lot like charity. People only give at Christmas but people need help year round. Veterans and those who died fighting for our nation should be remembered year round.

  • danicole profile image
    Author

    danicole 5 years ago from United States

    Thank You guys for the comments and support :) feel so welcome ........... writing my next article as we speak :)

  • Gypsy Rose Lee profile image

    Gypsy Rose Lee 5 years ago from Riga, Latvia

    Voted up and awesome. Such a wonderful tribute to Memorial Day. I'm now living in Riga, Latvia but I remember watching parades on Memorial Day and enjoying the weekend. Loved this lots and great pics. Passing this on and welcome to HubPages. Have a great Memorial Day.

  • profile image

    KDuBarry03 5 years ago

    Sadly, I had to look up the premise behind memorial day because my history teachers failed to teach us. This is definitely very useful and great knowledge :) Thank you for sharing! happy memorial day, everyone.

    -KD

  • Deborah Brooks profile image

    Deborah Brooks Langford 5 years ago from Brownsville,TX

    I am sharing your wonderful hub on Facebook.. if you want to be friends I am Deborah Brooks Langford

  • Naomi R. Cox profile image

    Naomi R. Cox 5 years ago from Elberton, Georgia

    Thank you sharing this hub with us. Very well written and loaded with great information. Keep up the great work and welcome to HubPages!

  • Deborah Brooks profile image

    Deborah Brooks Langford 5 years ago from Brownsville,TX

    Great Hub.. Happy Memorial day to you.. I pray you have a great and fun day

    Debbie

  • Sunshine625 profile image

    Linda Bilyeu 5 years ago from Orlando, FL

    Well said! You answered questions for me that I didn't know I had. Welcome to HubPages!

  • danicole profile image
    Author

    danicole 5 years ago from United States

    Thank You that's really interesting,

    to tell you the truth in grade school I never learned about the history behind memorial day so it was all new to me when i researched it for my article ....... thank you for giving me more information on this subject ....... happy early memorial day :)

  • danicole profile image
    Author

    danicole 5 years ago from United States

    Thank You for the comment and Welcome Jlbowden :)

    Happy Hubbing with you too

  • bankscottage profile image

    bankscottage 5 years ago from Pennsylvania

    Nice Hub and nice tribute.

    For a Hub I wrote, I found that Memorial Day started in Charleston, SC by freedmen (freed slaves), ministers, and teachers to honor Union soldiers who had been POWs nearby and died.

    For Memorial Day in grade school, I remember learning patriotic songs. I remember going to the cemetery with my Aunt. I remember taking a troop of boy scouts to the cemetery to place flags on veteran's graves. Maybe at our day at the beach we should think about the veterans and their day on Omaha Beach.

    With an all volunteer military, many families are detached from military service and sacrifice. In the poem "In Flanders Fields" by McCrae, the fallen hauntingly challenge the living to 'take up the torch'(another poem that mentions poppies). One of the best ways to honer the fallen is to serve.

    The Travis Manion Foundation, a foundation created in the memory of a fallen Marine to support veterans and the families of the fallen, asks "If not me, than who..." Like my father, my father-in-law, my son's father-in-law, my eldest son and I have served. On May 20, 2012, our youngest son was commissioned a 2nd Lt in the USMC.

    Thanks for helping teach our young about the sacrifices others have made to keep this country free.

    Voted up, interesting and shared.

  • Jlbowden profile image

    James Bowden 5 years ago from Long Island, New York

    Danicole:

    Your article about Memorial Day was not only very well written, but also well spoken in the words you compiled for your article. You definitely helped shed some light on this very important holiday which a few of us may have forgot about its true meaning. Like you said it's a time to honour our troops who fight for America's freedom-something all of us should never forget and most likely will never! In addition it was very interesting overall and voted up as well. At this time I would also like to extend my welcome to you as a new member to our talented community of online writers. You will soon find that HP members are very supportive and equally as friendly. Happy hubbing to you!

    Jlbowden

  • danicole profile image
    Author

    danicole 5 years ago from United States

    Awww thanks that's nice KoffeeKlatch Gals is this you and your family that visit graves?

    :)

  • KoffeeKlatch Gals profile image

    Susan Haze 5 years ago from Sunny Florida

    We always visit the graves on Memorial Day. You have writte4n a beautiful tribute to Memorial Day. Up and beautiful.

Click to Rate This Article