Why Memorial Day

Many of us see Memorial Day as a federal holiday in the United States for remembering
the people who died while serving in the country’s armed forces. The holiday, which is
currently observed every year on the last Monday of May, originated as Decoration Day after
the American Civil War in 1868, when the Grand Army of the Republic, an organization of
Union veterans founded in Decatur, Illinois, established it as a time for the nation to
decorate the graves of the Union war dead with flowers. By the 20th century, competing
Union and Confederate holiday traditions, celebrated on different days, had merged, and
Memorial Day eventually extended to honor all Americans who died while in the military
service. It marks the start of the unofficial summer vacation season, while Labor Day
marks its end.

Many of us 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.

Annual Decoration Days for particular cemeteries are held on a Sunday in late spring or early summer
in some rural areas of the American South, notably in the mountain areas. In cases involving a family
graveyard where remote ancestors as well as those who were deceased more recently are buried, this may
take on the character of an extended family reunion to which some people travel hundreds of miles.
People gather on the designated day and put flowers on graves and renew contacts with relatives and
others. There often is a religious service and a picnic-like “dinner on the grounds,” the traditional
term for a potluck meal at a church. It is believed that this practice began before the American Civil
War and thus may reflect the real origin of the “memorial day” idea.

If you experience hearing problems that you notice while gathering with friends and Family,
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Memorial Day is not to be confused with Veterans Day; Memorial Day is a day of remembering
the men and women who died while serving, while Veterans Day celebrates the service of all U.S.
military veterans.

Larry Bailey/Wikipedia 2017