The day started out as "Decoration Day" before the end of the Civil War. Ladies groups from the South would go to the graves of their fallen husbands, sons or fiance's and would decorate the sites with flowers and other small mementos. The practice soon caught on and the first Memorial Day was officially celebrated on May 30, 1868 with the decorating of both Union and Confederate graves at Arlington National Cemetery. Following World War I, the day's purpose was changed in order to commemorate the fallen soldiers from all American conflicts, not just those of the Civil War. In 1971, by act of Congress, the date of Memorial Day was changed to the last Monday in May.
Over the years, the emphasis of Memorial Day has changed away from its original significance and more towards the "unofficial beginning of the Summer season". However, in recent years, we seem to have reverted a lot of our attention back to the Holiday's original purpose - to honor and remember those who made the Ultimate Sacrifice for their country. Tomorrow, in South Plainfield, the American Legion and the Veterans of Foreign Wars will visit the cemeteries in town, to play "Taps" and to place a small American flag on the grave sites of those, not only killed in battle, but upon the graves of all who have served in the American Armed Forces.
"Dulce et decorum est pro patria mori"
May the souls of all our honored dead be granted eternal rest and may Perpetual Light always shine upon them. Rest peacefully, Brave Soldiers - we thank you for a job well done.
73 de Larry W2LJ