Memorial Day History: Why Do We Celebrate this Holiday?

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Memorial Day

As it falls within the last week of May, the point at which the weather is truly ripe for grilling out and taking road trips, Memorial Day is considered the unofficial start of summer. This, and the fact that you’ll likely be enjoying a three-day weekend as a result of it, might lead you to associate the holiday with fun and frivolity.

But the purpose of Memorial Day is to honor the lives of men and women who made the ultimate sacrifice for their country, and it has been since its first observances as Decoration Day. While the occasion is still a great time to enjoy yourself and bond with family, it’s also worth knowing the history of Memorial Day and the hows and whys of its traditions.

According to The History Channel, the loss of life created by the Civil War led Americans to pay tribute to fallen soldiers by praying and leaving flowers at their graves. These unofficial acts of remembrance served as the inspiration for General John A. Logan to designate May 30, 1868, as an official day of remembrance for “comrades who died in defense of their country during the late rebellion, and whose bodies now lie in almost every city, village and hamlet churchyard in the land.”

Over the years, Decoration Day came to be known as Memorial Day and continued to fall on May 30. In 1971, the Uniform Monday Holiday Act went into effect, establishing that Memorial Day was to fall on the last Monday in May. Since 1971, Memorial Day has fallen between May 25-31; in 2018, Memorial Day takes place on May 28.

Though parades honoring military personnel and visits to cemeteries and memorials are some of the more solemn traditions of the holiday, its proximity to the official start of summer has made Memorial Day ideal for getaways, grilling out, and general rest and relaxation. We hope that you’ll join the team at Hatfield Buick GMC in celebrating this year’s Memorial Day by taking a moment to consider the sacrifice of so many American servicemen and servicewomen in the effort of keeping this great nation free.

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