MEMORIAL DAY HISTORY
Our post proudly marches on Memorial Day and participates in the ceremony at Doylestown Cemetary
Memorial Day History
It is unclear where exactly this tradition originated; numerous different communities may have independently initiated the memorial gatherings. Nevertheless, in 1966 the federal government declared Waterloo, New York, the official birthplace of Memorial Day.
Waterloo—which first celebrated the day on May 5, 1866—was chosen because it hosted an annual, community-wide event, during which businesses closed and residents decorated the graves of soldiers with flowers and flags.
On June 3, 1861, Warrenton, Virginia was the location of the first Civil War soldier's grave ever to be decorated.
In 1862, women in Savannah, Georgia decorated Confederate soldiers' graves.
The 1863 cemetery dedication at Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, was a ceremony of commemoration at the graves of dead soldiers.
On May 5, 1868, General John A. Logan, leader of an organization for Northern Civil War veterans, called for a nationwide day of remembrance later that month.
The date of Decoration Day, as he called it, was chosen because it wasn’t the anniversary of any particular battle.
On the first Decoration Day, General James Garfield made a speech at Arlington National Cemetery, and 5,000 participants decorated the graves of the 20,000 Union and Confederate soldiers buried there.
By 1890 each state had made Decoration Day an official state holiday. Southern states, on the other hand, continued to honor their dead on separate days until after World War I.
Memorial Day, as Decoration Day gradually came to be known, originally honored only those lost while fighting in the Civil War. But during World War I the United States found itself embroiled in another major conflict, and the holiday evolved to commemorate American military personnel who died in all wars.
In 1968 Congress passed the Uniform Monday Holiday Act, which established Memorial Day as the last Monday in May in order to create a three-day weekend for federal employees.
Since 1868 Doylestown, Pennsylvania, has held annual Memorial Day parades which it claims to be the nation's oldest continuously running. However, the Memorial Day parade in Rochester, Wisconsin, predates Doylestown's by one year. In D.C., the National Memorial Day Parade hosts an audience exceeding 250,000, who watches as marching bands, active duty and retired military units, youth groups, veterans, and floats head down Constitution Avenue.
President Bill Clinton signed the National Moment of Remembrance Act in 2000, which asks Americans to pause and observe a National Moment of Remembrance at 3:00 p.m. local time.
In 1915, following the Second Battle of Ypres, Lieutenant Colonel John McCrae, a physician with the Canadian Expeditionary Force, wrote the poem, "In Flanders Fields". Its opening lines refer to the fields of poppies that grew among the soldiers' graves in Flanders.
In 1918, inspired by the poem, YWCA worker Moina Michael attended a YWCA Overseas War Secretaries' conference wearing a silk poppy pinned to her coat and distributed over two dozen more to others present. In 1920, the National American Legion adopted it as their official symbol of remembrance.
Many people confuse Memorial Day and Veterans Day. Memorial Day is a day for remembering and honoring military personnel who died in the service of their country, particularly those who died in battle or as a result of wounds sustained in battle. While those who died are also remembered, Veterans Day is the day set aside to thank and honor ALL those who served honorably in the military — in wartime or peacetime.