Captain Rick: Memorial Day is a United States federal holiday of remembering the men and women who died while serving in the United States Armed Forces … protecting the liberty enjoyed by Americans.
Traditional observance of Memorial Day
On Memorial Day the flag of the United States is raised briskly to the top of the staff and then solemnly lowered to the half-staff position, where it remains only until noon. It is then raised to full-staff for the remainder of the day.
The half-staff position remembers the more than one million men and women who gave their lives in service of their country. At noon their memory is raised by the living, who resolve not to let their sacrifice be in vain, but to rise up in their stead and continue the fight for liberty and justice for all.
The National Memorial Day Concert takes place on the west lawn of the United States Capitol. Music is performed, and respect is paid to the men and women who gave their lives for their country.
For many Americans, the central event is attending one of the thousands of parades held on Memorial Day in large and small cities all over the country. Most of these feature marching bands and an overall military theme with the National Guard and other servicemen participating along with veterans and military vehicles from various wars.
Many people visit cemeteries and memorials, particularly to honor those who have died in military service.
Many volunteers place an American flag on each grave in national cemeteries.
History of Memorial Day
Formerly known as Decoration Day, it originated after the American Civil War to commemorate the 600,000+ soldiers who died in the Civil War (1861-1865).
Records show that the act of decorating the graves of soldiers who lost their lives in the Civil War occurred as early as 1861 throughout the North and South.
On May 5, 1868, in his capacity as commander-in-chief of the Grand Army of the Republic, the veterans’ organization for Union Civil War veterans, General John A. Logan issued a proclamation calling for "Decoration Day" to be observed annually and nationwide.
It was observed for the first time that year on May 30; the date was chosen because it was not the anniversary of any particular battle.
According to the White House, the May 30 date was chosen as the optimal date for flowers to be in bloom.
By the 20th century, Memorial Day had been extended to honor all Americans who have died while in the military service.
"Memorial Day" became common after World War II and was declared as the official name by Federal law in 1967.
On June 28, 1968, the Congress passed the Uniform Monday Holiday Act, which moved four holidays, including Memorial Day, from their traditional dates to a specified Monday in order to create a convenient three-day weekend.
The law took effect at the federal level in 1971. All 50 states adopted Congress’ change of date within a few years.
The change moved Memorial Day from its traditional May 30 date to the last Monday in May, where it remains today.
Captain Rick: To my fellow Americans: I hope you have a safe and enjoyable Memorial Day … and you reserve a few moments to honor those that gave their life to protect your liberty.
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