This Monday, America will be shut down for a very good reason: to honor the men and women of the past and present who have given the ultimate sacrifice while serving in our armed forces.
Arlington National Cemetery, the largest military cemetery in the U.S., tweeted the story of Memorial Day and how it evolved from a post-Civil War celebration to the major national holiday that America celebrates today.
What's the story?
According to Arlington, Memorial Day began in the aftermath of the Civil War when families from both sides laid flowers on the graves of those lost in the war. It was initially known as "Decoration Day."
The national observance of Memorial Day began when Maj. Gen. John A. Logan, then leader of the Grand Army of the Republic, a fraternal organization for Union veterans, designated May 30, 1868 for the celebration of Decoration Day.
But the celebration quickly evolved from just a day honoring fallen Civil War veterans to a day honoring every American who gave the ultimate sacrifice for their country. With the meaning change came a name change. According to Arlington, people began referring to the holiday as "Memorial Day" by the late 19th Century.
In 1968, then-President Lyndon B. Johnson signed into law the Uniform Monday Holiday Act, which established the national observance of Memorial Day on the last Monday each May.
"These #MemorialDay ceremonies, rooted in 150 years of tradition, ensure that the United States will never forget those who died in the armed forces and the country for which they served," according to Arlington, which has approximately 400,000 graves on its land.
Read the full story below:
#DidYouKnow that #MemorialDay, the federal holiday in which we honor those who died while in the armed services, originated in the aftermath of the #CivilWar?#HonorThem— Arlington Cemetery (@ArlingtonNatl) May 25, 2018
(@USArmy painting by Ellen White, courtesy of @USArmyCMH) pic.twitter.com/Lm9G7ZgS26
On both sides of the #CivilWar conflict, north and south, families and brothers-in-arms of the fallen came together in grassroots commemorations to lay flowers on the graves of the dead, in honor of their sacrifice.— Arlington Cemetery (@ArlingtonNatl) May 25, 2018
This day of remembrance was initially known as #DecorationDay.
The national observance of #DecorationDay, in part, is traced to an order by Maj. Gen. John A. Logan, the commander in chief of the Grand Army of the Republic, a fraternal organization of #CivilWar Union veterans. On May 5, 1868, Logan instructed members of the GAR that:— Arlington Cemetery (@ArlingtonNatl) May 25, 2018
(That May 30), 1868 is designated for the purpose of strewing with flowers or otherwise decorating the graves of comrades who died in the defense of their country during the late rebellion, and whose bodies now lie in almost every city, village, and hamlet churchyard in the land.— Arlington Cemetery (@ArlingtonNatl) May 25, 2018
For many years, #MemorialDay commemorations both domestically and overseas took place on May 30.— Arlington Cemetery (@ArlingtonNatl) May 25, 2018
In 1968 Congress passed, and President Lyndon Johnson signed, the Uniform Monday Holiday Act. This legislation established the observance of Memorial Day on the last Monday in May.
Every year, during #MemorialDay weekend, cemeteries across the globe honor service members who perished in the line of duty.— Arlington Cemetery (@ArlingtonNatl) May 25, 2018