Thursday, 01 December 2022

The history of Memorial Day

 

The observance of Memorial Day day was born of compassion and empathy in 1863.


As the Civil War raged, grieving mothers, wives, daughters, sisters and other loved ones were cleaning Confederate soldiers' graves in Columbus, Miss., and placing flowers on them. The nearby Union soldiers' graves were dusty and overgrown with weeds.


Grieving for their own fallen soldiers, the Confederate women understood that the dead Union soldiers buried nearby were the cherished loved ones of families and communities far away. They cleared the tangled brush and mud from the Union graves as well as their own soldiers' graves and laid flowers on them also.

 

Soon the tradition of a “Decoration Day” for the graves of fallen soldiers spread. On May 5, 1866, when the Civil War was over, Henry Welles of Waterloo, New York, closed his drug store and suggested that all other shops in town also close up for a day to honor all soldiers killed in the Civil War, Union and Confederate alike. It was a gesture of healing and reconciliation in a land ripped apart by conflict.

 

Sixteen years later, in 1882, the nation observed its first official Memorial Day, a day set aside to remember and honor the sacrifice of those who died in all our nation's wars.

 

For decades now, Memorial Day has been a day in our nation when stores closed and communities gathered together for a day of parades and other celebrations with a patriotic theme. Memorial Day means ceremonies at cemeteries around the country, speeches honoring those who gave their lives and service, the laying of wreaths, the playing of Taps.

 

These ceremonies continue to this day.


Today, we honor our fallen comrades and those who served our country in a time of conflict. On this day we honor the ideals and values all soldiers have given for their country and thank them from the bottom of our hearts for defending this country in its time of need.


Daniel J. Davi, BM2 Boatswain Mate, is a member of the Vietnam Veterans of America Chapter 951, which has taken part in this weekend's Memorial Day activities. The group visited veterans at care facilities this weekend, where Davi delivered a version of this history of Memorial Day, along with thanks to the veterans for their service.


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