Why We Observe Memorial DaySubmitted by HearthStone | Private Wealth Management on May 17th, 2016
Why We Observe Memorial Day
Freedom and independence have never been free. They are “bought” at a great price. Memorial Day is when we honor those who died in battle to defend these ideals and privileges.
But just how and when did this observance begin?
Shortly after the Civil War, there developed a pervasive desire to honor the hundreds of thousands who died serving their country. Local observances sprung up throughout America’s towns and communities to commemorate the sacrifices of fallen soldiers. Thus began what would become today’s Memorial Day. It was originally called “Decoration Day.”
In 1971 Congress passed the Uniform Monday Holiday Act. This established that Memorial Day be celebrated on the last Monday of May. Just as it was in 1868, Memorial Day is celebrated at Arlington National Cemetery as well as many other cemeteries across the land. A small American flag is placed on each grave. The President or Vice President places a wreath on the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier.
This list of battle deaths* brings to mind the sacrifices made by soldiers and their families.
|American Revolution (1775-1783)||4,435|
|War of 1812 (1812-1815)||2,260|
|Mexican War (1846-1848)||1,733|
|Civil War (1861-1865)||140,414 Union
|Spanish-American War (1898-1902)||385|
|World War I (1917-1918)||53,402|
|World War II (1941-1945)||291,557|
|Korean War (1950-1953)||33,686|
|Vietnam War (1964-1975)||47,410|
|Gulf War (1990-1991)||147|
|Afghanistan War (2001-present)||2,381|
|Iraq War (2003-2012)||4,500|
It is fitting that we stop and honor those heroes who paid the ultimate price so that we could be free and independent. They will always be heroes—our heroes.
“Here at the Capitol, just weeks before the end of the Civil War, a weary President Lincoln pleaded with his fellow citizens, to ’bind up the nation’s wounds, to care for him who shall have borne the battle, and for his widow, and his orphan.’”
—Gen. Colin Powell, USA (Ret.)