In 1868, three years after the Civil War ended, Maj. Gen. John A. Logan, leader of a Union veterans’ organization, established Decoration Day as a time for the nation to decorate the graves of soldiers who had died in the war. He chose May 30, possibly because he knew flowers would be in bloom all over the country on that day.
Logan’s declaration, in part, said: “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.”
Arlington National Cemetery was the site of the first official observance, attended by Washington dignitaries as well as the public. After the speeches, children from the Soldiers’ and Sailors’ Orphan Home and Union veterans walked through the cemetery, placing flowers on both Union and Confederate graves.
After World War I, May 30 became a day to honor fallen soldiers from all wars. In 1971, Congress declared Memorial Day a national holiday that would be celebrated on the last Monday in May.
Since 2000, Americans have been encouraged to observe a National Moment of Remembrance by pausing at 3 p.m. local time on Memorial Day for a minute of silence to honor those who have died serving the nation.
Memorial Day Events
The annual Memorial Day Ceremony will take place at 11:00 a.m. in the auditorium on Monday, May 30th. We have a special presentation by speaker Harry Moses, who has written two monologues about the American Flag. Following the ceremony, we will have three seatings for our Memorial Day picnic, at noon, 2:00 p.m. and 4:00 p.m. We begin taking reservations for the picnic WHEN THE MENU ARRIVES IN YOUR MAILBOX. Please do not call dining services until then. Following the picnic we will show the movie “Taking Chance” at 7:30 p.m. in the auditorium. This movie has won numerous awards at film festivals worldwide. We did show it last year and it got rave reviews from the folks who saw it, so we are showing it again. Memorial Day represents the sacrifice of lives during war, and this film does a wonderful job depicting that.