Thursday, May 26, 2011
Memorial Day is a federal holiday in the United States observed on the last Monday of May. Originally called Decoration Day, the day was first widely observed on May 30, 1968, to commemorate the Civil War soldiers, by proclamation of General John A Logan of the Grand Army of the Republic, an organization of former sailors and soldiers. In the first national celebration at Arlington National Cemetery, General James Garfield gave a speech and 5,000 participants decorated the graves of more than 20,000 Union and Confederate soldiers. By the late 1800s, many more cities and communities had begun to observe Memorial Day, and after the First World War it became an occasion for honoring those who had died in all America's wars.
In 1971, Congress declared Memorial Day a national holiday to be celebrated on the last Monday of May. Memorial Day is celebrated at Arlington National Cemetery with a ceremony in which an American flag is placed at each grave. The President or Vice President usually lays a wreath at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier.
For more information on Memorial Day Traditions, the meaning and history, the National Memorial Day Concert, information to support not only our fallen soldiers but also our currently serving troops and their families, and to read about past national concerts, please visit http://www.pbs.org/memorialdayconcert/.