Good question: How did Memorial Day start? – WCCO

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — Memorial Day is often considered the unofficial start of summer – a day to barbecue, hit the lake, or just hang out with friends and family. Sometimes the important reason why it is even considered a holiday can be overlooked.

So, Charlie from Bloomington asked for a reminder: How did Memorial Day start? Good question.

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The idea of ​​Memorial Day began in the years following the Civil War.

An organization of Union veterans – the Grand Army of the Republic (GAR) – has decided that May 30 should be a day to honor service members who lost their lives during the war.

At the time, it was called Decoration Day because families decorated the graves of the war dead. According to the Department of Veterans Affairs, May 30 was chosen because flowers would bloom across the country.

In the late 19th century, local communities in the United States celebrated the day with parades and tributes.

After World War I, the day was expanded to honor all those who died serving in the United States Armed Forces. In 1971, Congress made Memorial Day a statutory holiday and moved it to the last Monday in May.

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“Memorial Day is truly a solemn day,” says Major Scott Hawks of the Minnesota National Guard. “It’s a day when we should remember our servicemen who sacrificed their lives, who fought for us in the past, who lost their lives.”

In the United States, there are two official federal holidays that recognize veterans – Veterans Day and Memorial Day – and there are times when people confuse the two.

Veterans Day honors those who served, while Memorial Day is meant to remember those who gave their lives in service.

Maj. Hawks says it’s good to celebrate Memorial Day with family and friends because those are the freedoms the military died for.

“My preference would be to just acknowledge the fact that we have military,” he says. “Go to your local parade, go to a cemetery, or volunteer on Memorial Day.”

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In 2000, Congress passed the National Remembrance Act. He encourages everyone to pause for a minute at 3 p.m. on Memorial Day to reflect on the sacrifices of service members.


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Edward L. Robinett