The Date and History of Memorial Day
Memorial Day is observed in the United States on the last Monday of May every year. At this celebration, we commemorate and honor people who gave their lives during their military service. The date of celebration changes every year. In 2017, we celebrate Memorial Day on May 29. For you to know, in 2018 the date is May 28 and in 2019 – May 27. Would you like to learn more about the history of this day? Then read on!
The History of Memorial Day
Decorating graves and cleaning cemeteries to honor died ancestors is an ancient tradition that exists all over the world. In the USA, this tradition is presented in the form of Memorial Day. At first, this day was called Decoration Day, due to the custom of decorating graves. The specific origin of this celebration is unknown; however, let’s see what we can understand from the history.
In the early days of America, people would gather to clean cemeteries and decorate graves in late summer. This was also associated with family reunions. Following the Civil War, the need to have a secular patriotic ceremony to commemorate the fallen soldiers became evident. Throughout the nation, monuments to the dead were being erected and ceremonies centered on soldiers’ graves. After the First World War, Americans who died in all wars were honored on this day as well.
At first, Memorial Day was observed on different dates in various states. In 1971, the Congress proclaimed it as a national holiday and then it was decided to observe it on the last Monday of May.
Why is poppy a symbol of Memorial Day?
The tradition to wear a red poppy on Memorial Day has an interesting history as well. Poppies were the first flowers to grow on war-torn fields. Wind scattered their seeds and they remained dormant in the ground. When the ground started to recover after brutal fighting, the flowers began to grow.
A Canadian soldier John McCrae wrote a poem “In Flanders Fields” in 1915. In this poem, he described poppies growing on the battlefield and used in burials. This poem inspired people to start wearing poppies on Memorial Day. Nowadays, these flowers are considered the symbol of new life and recovery, as well as the symbol of the lost lives. Wearing poppies is considered to increase the awareness of military people who were physically or emotionally damaged after the war.
Memorial Day isn’t the same as Veterans Day
Memorial Day and Veterans Day are frequently confused. However, they are completely different holidays. On Memorial Day, we remember and honor the military people who gave their lives serving their country, especially those who died on a battlefield. On Veterans Day, we don’t only honor those who died in war, but also everyone else who served their country in peacetime or wartime, both those who survived and died. The date of Veterans Day observance is November 11. This date is officially fixed, no matter on what day of the week it falls.