Memorial Day is a day when Americans remember the men and women who died while serving in the United States Armed Forces. Memorial Day has its origins in Decoration Day, a day when Freedmen and other black Americans would celebrate the black and white Union soldiers who fought in the Civil War. Decoration Day began in 1865 and was held on May 1st.
By 1882, the holiday changed its name to Memorial Day and moved to the last Monday in May. It became an official federal holiday in 1967. Many people visit cemeteries and remember those who died serving this country. Many more take time for friends and family by going to the beach, having picnics and parties, shopping, enjoying fireworks, or watching the Indianapolis 500 car race.
Memorial Day is similar to Remembrance Day in Canada and other Commonwealth countries, but it’s different. Remembrance Day in Canada and Veteran’s Day in the USA is on November 11th and was formerly called Armistice Day. It’s held on the 11th because November 11, 1918, the Allies and Germany signed an agreement that ended the fighting of WWI.
My great-grandfather fought for Britain in WWI. My maternal grandmother worked in a munitions factory as part of the war effort and both my grandfathers fought in WWII. More recently, my husband was in the US Navy. So I guess I do have a lot to remember on Memorial Day. Mostly, though, I’m wishing for peace.