LOCAL'S CORNER: Remembering the Fallen Ones: A brief History of Memorial Day

Every year in the U.S. people all over the nation pay tribute and respect to the men and women who sacrificed their lives serving our nation’s armed forces. This yearly holiday, which is observed on the last Monday in May, has a historical meaning that goes back of the end of the American Civil War.

The origins of Memorial Day begin during the Civil War (1861-1865). This war left a huge impact on the nation, families and communities suffered the loss of their loved ones. Spontaneous commemorations began to take place all over the nation. These gatherings were a symbolic way for people to pay homage to the fallen soldiers and decorate their graves with flowers, giving birth to what was then known as "Decoration Day."

In 1868, General John A. Logan, the Commander in Chief of the Grand Army of the Republic, declared May 30th as a National Day of Remembrance. The first day official observance of Decoration Day took place at Arlington National Cemetery, where thousands of people decorated the graves of Union and Confederate alike. The practice of decorating graves soon spread throughout the country.

After World War I, Decoration Day gradually transitioned into what is modern day “Memorial Day," encompassing the remembrance of the fallen lives given to the nation’s constant fight for freedom. The day became an opportunity to honor the brave men and women who gave their lives in service from any affiliation to their country.

In 1971, Memorial Day was officially recognized as a federal holiday and moved to the last Monday in May, creating a long weekend for Americans to pay their respects and engage in various commemorative activities. The Uniform Monday Holiday Act sought to provide a consistent three-day weekend for federal holidays, including Memorial Day.

Over the years, Memorial Day has been a day of remembrance, patriotism, and reflection. Various traditions have emerged such as parades, memorial services, flag ceremonies, and the symbolic act of placing flags on the graves of fallen soldiers. Many families also use this occasion to visit cemeteries and honor their fallen loved ones.

In 2000, the National Moment of Remembrance Act was passed, encouraging all Americans to pause and observe a moment of silence at 3:00 p.m. local time on Memorial Day. This powerful act of unity aims to ensure that the true meaning and significance of the day are not lost amid the hustle and bustle of holiday activities.

As we enjoy the long weekend and the beginning of summer, let us remember the true purpose of Memorial Day. It is a time to honor the brave men and women who made the ultimate sacrifice while serving our nation. Through its evolving history, Memorial Day has become a deeply ingrained tradition, reminding us of the valor and selfishness displayed by those who gave their lives to protect the freedoms we cherish.

May we never forget their sacrifice and continue to honor their memories on this solemn day.

Imperial Valley resident A. Ricardo Heredia is a middle school teacher in Yuma, Arizona, a master's degree student at CETYS University and a local musician. He is a history major and researcher in European and Greek mythology. He can be reached at aheredia96@hotmail.com.

Recommended for you

(0) comments

Welcome to the discussion.

Keep it Clean. Please avoid obscene, vulgar, lewd, racist or sexually-oriented language.
Don't Threaten. Threats of harming another person will not be tolerated.
Be Truthful. Don't knowingly lie about anyone or anything.
Be Nice. No racism, sexism or any sort of -ism that is degrading to another person.
Be Proactive. Use the 'Report' link on each comment to let us know of abusive posts.
Share with Us. We'd love to hear eyewitness accounts, the history behind an article.