Memorial Day: A Reminder
Though many think of Memorial Day as the official kick-off for summer, the purpose of the day should never be forgotten. Memorial Day reminds all of us that the freedoms we enjoy are the result of the sacrifices of those who served the United States at home and abroad throughout our nation’s history.
The first Memorial Day observance in Washington D.C. was held on May 30, 1868, three years after the Civil War ended. The head of an organization of Union veterans “established Decoration Day as a time for the national to decorate the graves of the war dead with flowers.”
May 30 was chosen “because flowers would be in bloom all over the country.”
Veterans supporters met that year at Arlington National Cemetery, just across the Potomac River from the U.S. capital. Many Washington dignitaries, including Gen. and Mrs. Ulysses S. Grant, attended. After the ceremonies, children from the Soldiers’ and Sailors’ Orphan Home walked through the cemetery and placed flowers on the graves of both Union and Confederate soldiers.
Officially, the birthplace of Memorial Day is Waterloo, New York, which was designated by Congress and President Lyndon Johnson in 1966, 100 years after the city’s first observance.
However, according to the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, “approximately 25 places have been named in connection with the origin of Memorial Day, many of them in the South where most of the war dead were buried.” Two Georgia cities, Macon and Columbus, claim early Memorial Day ceremonies.
Though Memorial Day was not declared a national holiday until 1971, May 30 had become a day of observance in communities throughout the nation by the end of the 19th century. Many states recognized the day, and the Army and Navy adopted regulations for observances at their facilities. When Congress declared Memorial Day a holiday, the date was established as the last Monday in May.
Tradition dictates that small American flags be placed on the graves of soldiers on Memorial Day, a practice that continues at many national cemeteries today. In local church and city cemeteries, the graves of soldiers can be identified in several ways. Often the grave will have a bronze marker with the soldier’s branch of service, dates of service, and honors. On older graves, symbols carved into the grave stone may indicate military service. According to the Carrollton City Cemetery Walking Guide, a sword indicates a military career. Crossed swords indicate a life lost in battle.
Throughout the years since those first Memorial Day observances, dignitaries and family members have encouraged the people of the United States to remember the sacrifices of those who have served in America’s military. In 2000 Congress passed “The National Moment of Remembrance Act” to support coordinated efforts to honor fallen soldiers. The National Moment of Remembrance encourages all Americans to pause wherever they are at 3 p.m. local time on Memorial Day for a minute of silence to remember and honor those who have died in service to the nation. “It’s a way we can all help put the memorial back in Memorial Day,” said Moment of Remembrance founder Carmella LaSpada.
The Duffey Realty team is grateful for the sacrifice of those who gave their lives in the service of our country, as well as all of those who have served and continue to serve in the Armed Forces at home and abroad. Thank you for your service.
To read the full history of Memorial Day, visit the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs website.
Memorial Day Events
A Memorial Day observance will be held on Saturday, May 28, at 11:00 a.m. at the Carroll County Veterans Memorial Park (at the Roundabout on Newnan Road in Carrollton). The Carroll County Symphony Wind Ensemble will play patriotic music beginning at 10:30 a.m. The Carrollton JROTC will present the Colors. The ceremony will include a remembrance of the 100th Anniversary of World War I. For more information, contact Don Levans at 678-246-8446.
The National Memorial Day Association of Georgia is hosting the annual Memorial Day ceremony at the Marietta National Cemetery (500 Washington Avenue Northeast) on Monday, May 30, at noon. The ceremony will feature patriotic music, posting of the colors, prayers, a gun salute, and speakers. The event is free and all Veterans as well as the general public are invited to attend. For more information, call (404) 510-4668.
Memorial Day at Stone Mountain, May 27-30
Stone Mountain will have a special patriotic fireworks finale following the nightly Lasershow during Memorial Day weekend, May 27-30. On Saturday, May 28 and Sunday, May 29, the Air National Guard Band Brass Quintet will play at the Azalea Stage from 4:00 – 4:30 p.m. The Air National Guard Band of the South will perform both nights from 7-9 p.m. on the Front Lawn. Attraction hours at the park are 10:30 a.m. – 8 p.m. The Lasershow begins at 9:30 p.m. All active and retired military personnel will receive one FREE Adventure Pass with valid ID and will save up to 30% off per person for immediate family members, and will receive 20% off food and merchandise.*
*Offer valid Memorial Weekend only (May 27- 30, 2016). Parking admission is not included. The following forms of ID are acceptable: Common Access Card, DD Form 1173, DD form 2A, DD214, GA Veteran’s Driver’s License.