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Honoring Veterans: A History of Memorial Day

May 23, 2013

American flags in the groundMay is the gateway to summer and to pass through it; the first step is Memorial Day Weekend.  Beaches, picnics, gardening are usually at the top of everyone’s agenda.  However, we often forget what the significance of this holiday is and why we observe it.

Memorial Day is a federal holiday that was formerly known as “Decoration Day” that originated after the American Civil War.  It was a day set aside to commemorate both the Union and Confederate soldiers that lost their lives in that war.  As it evolved into Memorial Day, it has been extended to honor and remember those Americans who paid the ultimate price in service to their country.

It is interesting to note that the custom of decorating soldier’s graves with flowers was practiced before the Civil War.  The first observance of a Memorial Day-type event was held in Charleston, South Carolina on May 1, 1865.

Since this time, the holiday has expanded to include various ceremonies across the United States at places such as Arlington National Cemetery, the Iwo Jima Memorial, Pearl Harbor, and US Veteran Memorialat the Gettysburg battlefield.  In addition, there are a variety of events that honor and celebrate those veterans of all wars that live amongst us.  

In particular, the Wounded Warriors of the Iraq and Afghanistan conflicts have a special place in many American’s hearts and minds.  This Memorial Day there are some great events that are happening around the country to honor and to raise funds for their special needs.  Here are a few that may interest you:

These are just a few of the events happening around the U.S. this Memorial Day.  Please join Keystone in honoring and supporting these great men and women.  Please take some time on your three day weekend and visit the Gary Sinise Foundation website or the Wounded Warrior Project site to learn how you can contribute and help out these veterans.