Exploring the two sides to a cherished holiday 


On the last Monday of May, the U.S. celebrates Memorial Day. This day, originally known as Decoration Day, is a time to commemorate the men and women who have died serving their country in the U.S. military. This year’s celebration is on Monday, May 29.  


For some, Memorial Day is a solemn occasion to honor a loved one who passed in the course of their military service or to quietly reflect on the sacrifices those in the armed forces have made for our collective freedom. For others, it’s a mark for the beginning of the summer season and a chance to take some time off to spend with family and friends.  


While traditions vary from person to person, Memorial Day can be celebrated as both a thoughtful and joyful holiday.  


“As we express our gratitude, we must never forget that the highest appreciation is not to utter the words, but to live by them.” – John F. Kennedy 


A slice of history  

According to the History Channel, Decoration Day started after the Civil War. That conflict claimed over 600,000 lives and there were many families who were touched by the death of a solider.  


In the late 1860s, towns in America started to hold springtime celebrations to honor their fallen and to gather as a group to remember their family members, friends and community members. They decorated the graves of soldiers and held programs and services to honor them.  


While the records and stories vary on who started this tradition, the federal government officially declared Waterloo, New York as the birthplace of Memorial Day in 1966. The town had its first celebration in May of 1866 and continues today with an annual event that spans the Memorial Day weekend and culminates in a solemn service on May 30. This is the date that General John A. Logan, leader of an organization for Northern Civil War veterans, called for as a nationwide day of remembrance in a 1968 proclamation.  


“Home of the free, because of the brave.” – Unknown  


The holiday changes as the times change 

As the U.S. found its armed forces in other conflicts such as World War I and World War II, the Vietnam War, The Korean War, communities used Decoration Day as a way to honor fallen soldiers. And it continues today to honor the soldiers lost in fighting such as Iran and Afghanistan.  


In 1968, Congress passed the Uniform Monday Holiday Act, declared Memorial Day a federal holiday and established the date as the last Monday in May to create a three-day weekend for federal employees. This change went into effect in 1971 and led the way for more businesses to be closed and people to start viewing the holiday as a three-day holiday weekend.  


In addition to honoring soldiers lost in battle, the holiday allows people who live in colder climates to celebrate the beginning of the summer season with warmer temperatures. It also allows time off for U.S. workers and signals that school will be over soon for most children.  


“Freedom makes a huge requirement of every human being. With freedom comes responsibility.”– Eleanor Roosevelt


A combination of remembrance and relaxing 

To keep the tradition of honoring fallen service members alive during the holiday weekend, Congress passed the National Moment of Remembrance Act in 2000. This calls for all people to pause at 3:00 p.m. and remember military members who fought and lost their lives in combat.  


Today, many families take the time to gather together over the Memorial Day weekend. Communities hold parades and picnics and many groups use the time to clean up cemeteries after a long winter. From remembering service members and honoring their sacrifice to grilling and relaxing, everyone has their own way of celebrating this day filled with meaning.  


WayForth honors and celebrates those who fought and lost their lives for our freedom.  


WayForth can help you or a family member with our comprehensive moving solutions including downsizing, space planning, packing and moving, unpacking, and setting up in your new home. How you move matters, move with WayForth. Contact our moving professionals today at 1.844.WAYFORTH.  

About the Author: WayForth

WayForth is the definitive provider of comprehensive and personalized moving solutions for life and business. Since 2016, WayForth has led the way in move management, providing solutions to over 15,000 individuals and families. How you move matters and no matter the destination, WayForth serves as a guide making life’s transitions easier to navigate. Call 1.844.WAYFORTH today to learn how we can help with your next move!
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